A doctor at the Tygerberg Hospital fills the cyringe with the Johnson and Johnson's covid-19 vaccine.These are mainly for the health care workers as the country starts the phase one vaccination. Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
A doctor at the Tygerberg Hospital fills the cyringe with the Johnson and Johnson's covid-19 vaccine.These are mainly for the health care workers as the country starts the phase one vaccination. Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

SA needs more Covid-19 vaccinators - SAMA

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The department of health is planning to inoculate over a million healthcare workers by the end of March.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, told parliament on Thursday that more than a million health-care workers can expect to receive a coronavirus shot by the end of March, after the health department secured a commitment from Pfizer for an initial tranche of 600,000 doses of its double-shot vaccine.

While the plan to immunise so many people in just a month is no small task, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) says the government needs to increase the number of vaccinators and vaccination sites, if it wants to achieve its target.

It is estimated that currently there are about 168 vaccinators, vaccinating approximately 48 people a day – that is six to seven people an hour.

According to experts the country needs a small army of 6,300 vaccinators, who can inoculate 50 people a day, to reach the overall target of vaccinating 40 million South Africans by the end of the year.

By Thursday evening, at least 52 647 health care workers in South Africa had been vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol.

SAMA spokesperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said if the target is to vaccinate a million people, more vaccinators and more sites are needed to achieve that.

“I don’t believe that by March, they would have achieved that million especially because on the ground we don't have the capacity to achieve such commitment,” Mzukwa told SABC.

“If the target is a million then they need capacity on the ground. More vaccinators and more sites, if you do that you can actually achieve, but looking at what we have I doubt we can reach that number,” he said.

In the Western Cape, the province's premier Alan Winde said 1 995 vaccinators will be trained to ensure the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine.

He said the number of vaccinators would grow as distribution phases progress from the first to the third phase.

Prof Ian Sanne - a member of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, said additional vaccine sites were being set-up across the country and an announcement would be made soon.

“We will be ramping up under sisonke to eventual 500 000 doses. So we are progressing very well and indeed are quite optimistic about our program. By Sunday the first batch would have been completed. We are on target and many of our vaccinators are vaccinating more than a thousand participants a day,” he said.

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