DURBAN - THE national Department of Health (DoH) has confirmed that people will not have to pay to receive vaccines from private providers.
This comes as South Africa started Phase 2 of the vaccination roll-out for people over 60, those with comorbidities and health-care workers this week.
Clicks and Dis-Chem pharmacies, among others, have said they were on board to support government’s vaccination roll-out strategy.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s spokesperson Lwazi Manzi said the R70 administration fee and the cost of the vaccine would be paid for by the state or medical aid.
Principal officer of Bonitas Medical Fund, Lee Callakoppen, said Bonitas was more than willing and able to collaborate and assist the Department of Health (DoH) and other service providers with the vaccination process.
Callakoppen said Bonitas would cover the costs of the Covid-19 vaccination, including the administration costs, in full for all members from a separate risk-benefit.
No member will have to make any payment to receive the Covid-19 vaccination, he said.
Callakoppen said the fund has strong reserves and was able to fund the cost of the vaccine.
“We estimate the vaccine costs will be around 0.9 to 1.7% of annual contributions and have set aside R320million to cover these costs. This will not have a negative impact on the Scheme as we are financially sound and stable.”
Bonitas has also agreed to pay the administration fee for the flu vaccine capped at R50 for all beneficiaries.
Callakoppen said this was as a result of the negotiations with 60 of the fund’s network pharmacies which include Dis-Chem and Clicks.
“In addition to the flu vaccination which is covered from risk for all beneficiaries as part of the preventative care benefit, Bonitas will also cover the costs of a pneumococcal vaccine for beneficiaries over the age of 65 years once every five years and childhood immunisation, this includes the vaccine admin fee,” he said.
He added medical aid members would still need to register on the government’s national Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
However, he said Bonitas would notify members of the registration process with a link on how to register.
Profmed chief executive officer Craig Comrie said the medical aid would cover the full cost of the vaccine plus the administration fee.
“We don’t want anyone to have to pay for this essential lifesaving vaccine,” he said.
However, Comrie said Profmed would like to better understand the make-up of the cost of the vaccine.
He said this transparency was necessary to establish if Profmed members were receiving the right value for the vaccine.
“Even in countries where National Health Insurance (NHI) systems are dominant, a person – public or private – does not have to pay for the vaccine. We want absolute transparency to make sure there are no unjustifiable costs,” said Comrie.
Dr Ronald Whelan, the chief commercial officer of Discovery Health, said Covid-19 vaccination was gazetted as a prescribed minimum benefit and medical schemes were obliged to pay for it in full.
“Discovery Health is delighted to be able to cover the costs of the vaccine and administration of the vaccine in full for all members of medical schemes under its administration.
“No co-payment will be levied on the vaccine nor administration of the vaccine at accredited vaccination sites, and payment will not impact members’ medical savings,” said Whelan.
Whelan advised registration on the EVDS was mandatory.
“Based on your registration details, EVDS will issue you with your unique token when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Without this token, you won’t be eligible for vaccination,” he said.
“The Discovery Vaccination Portal works alongside the national Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) and will give Discovery clients access to a tailored Covid-19 vaccination journey and provides access to a digital vaccination certificate,” said Whelan.
The Clicks Pharmacy Group said this week it had been given approval by the DoH to offer vaccinations at 47 sites around the country, with a further 520 locations still awaiting approval.
Clicks chief commercial officer Rachel Wrigglesworth said they were armed with extensive experience and expertise in vaccinations, and were proud to enter into the agreement to inoculate the nation against Covid-19.
“Clicks Pharmacies are well placed to support the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, subject to stock availability. We have the infrastructure, expertise and experience to offer mass vaccinations,” Wrigglesworth said.
The pharmacy group said it would be offering the vaccinations in accordance with the supply it received from the Department of Health.
“Individuals who have registered on the DoH’s EVDS online portal will receive a text message from EVDS, with a unique vaccination voucher, for presentation at the vaccination site, along with their ID and medical aid details, if applicable.
“It is important to note that the DoH will determine the exact vaccination site and time, and communicate this through a text message,” said Clicks.
Dis-Chem also said it would support the government’s initiative and would start vaccinating health workers and people over 60.
Should government stock be readily available, the group would be able to vaccinate about 800 000 people each month, he added.
“In 30 days we expect you to make submission on the modus operandi to be employed for purposes of the forensic investigation for you to report to us on how it will be done, who will do it and the terms of reference,” he added.
Hlengwa said the audit showed that the internal audit unit was functional during the year under review but nobody cared to listen to its recommendations as Maluleke had found.
“This smacks of co-ordinated corruption.”
He said they were also calling for Nxesi to conduct performance assessments on Lamati and Mafata in order to make a determination whether they were capable, competent and fit for purpose.