All systems go for KZN vaccine roll-out
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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala announced yesterday that the province was ready to roll out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to vaccinate over 160 000 health-care workers against Covid-19 when it arrives in the province in mid-February.
Zikalala was speaking following the arrival of the first batch of 1 million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India in Johannesburg on Monday. Some 500 000 more doses were expected to arrive this month.
Zikalala said the province, which recorded the first Covid-19 case in South Africa, was delighted to be a part of the vaccine roll-out in the battle against the virus and thanked the Indian government.
“We can now boldly say that we have an even stronger and more direct line of defence against the virus, to complement the non-pharmaceutical and therapeutic treatment interventions.”
The premier said the province had developed its own vaccination roll-out plan based on guidelines set by the World Health Organization and the National Department of Health.
“The vaccine will arrive in KZN around February 14.”
The plan focuses on the management, distribution and dispensing of the vaccine, he said.
“Key to the success of this plan is co-operation between the public and private sector, as well as non-governmental, community and faith-based organisations.”
A Vaccine Co-ordinating Committee has been established to fast-track the roll-out and would be chaired by the department’s HOD, Dr Sandile Tshabalala.
The committee includes private hospitals, unions, NGOs, traditional healers, and members of the academic community, civil society, military health-care services and eThekwini Municipality.
“Across the province, all our districts have finalised vaccination distribution plans.”
Zikalala said the Provincial Command Council would support and perform oversight over the vaccine roll-out process, while District Command Councils, led by MECs and mayors, will spend time in districts for the duration of the roll-out to provide support and ensure daily accountability.
The province would divide Phase 1 of the three-phased national roll-out strategy into two categories, including health-care workers and support staff in direct contact with patients and those who were not interacting with patients directly.
Zikalala said a pre-registration system for health workers per facility has been developed and a total of 163 256 health personnel from various sectors in KZN were eligible to receive the vaccination.
These include 81 000 health-care workers in the public sector and 49 000 in the private sector.
“To date, the province has identified 91 vaccination sites, which will include all the public hospitals and community health centres (CHCs).
“These hospitals and CHCs will be responsible for the clinics and other sites that are part of the value chain in their catchment areas.”
KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said some of the vaccine would be stored at the provincial depot in eThekwini, while the rest would be delivered directly to district centres which have existing storage capabilities.
“These are centres that always receive medication and vaccines, so there is absolutely nothing new that we are going to have to do,” she said.
Simelane-Zulu said in light of the scale of vaccination that would be carried out, the current nursing staff who perform routine vaccinations would be supplemented with over 2 000 nurses who have been trained and are already in the system.
She noted that should people choose not to take the vaccine, it would be put aside for the next phase.
The premier said after being vaccinated, each recipient would be observed for a while before being discharged.
Simelane-Zulu further explained that with any vaccination, if there was a reaction it would be picked up by staff in about 30 minutes.
“If there is no reaction, people would be free to go home. There are a few people generally who react badly to any vaccination,” said Simelane-Zulu.
She said about 5% fall into this category and were requested to advise health-care workers at vaccination centres.
“A slightly different plan would have to be made for those people,” said the MEC.
Simelane-Zulu added that no serious reactions have been reported after vaccination, with some noting mild headaches.
“A communication and social mobilisation strategy has been developed to ensure that all our citizens are well informed about the vaccine and the roll-out plan,” said Zikalala.
The premier said KZN has the second-highest laboratory-confirmed cases in the country. However, he said that there was a 51% decline in cases between weeks three and four in January.
The actual number of cases was 22 608 in week three and 11 099 in week four.
He said over the past week, the highest number of cases recorded was 2 079 on January 26 and the average number of cases recorded daily was 1 777.
“Due to its population size, among other factors, eThekwini District has continued to record the highest number of new cases daily,” said Zikalala.
In week three, 796 deaths week recorded, while week four had 265 deaths.
Zikalala said the second wave has been more severe than the first wave in terms of deaths in the province.
“We are concerned by the number of deaths reported daily,” he said.
The average number of deaths received daily over the past two weeks was 75.
KwaZulu-Natal’s first beneficiaries are targeted as follows:
- Public sector health care staff: 67 644
- Medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists, emergency medical services: 9 292
- Interns: 390
- Nurses: 34 279
- Non-OSD staff: 20 417
- Allied health professional: 2 639
- Engineers/artisans: 366
- Staff providing social services: 256
- Privately contracted staff working in public sector: 14 625
- Traditional healers: 5 939
- Military health-care staff: 350
- NGO sector staff: 6 699
- Environmental health practitioners: 360