Steve Biko Academic Hospital CEO Dr Mathabo Mathebula receives the Covid-19 vaccine earlier this month. File picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Steve Biko Academic Hospital CEO Dr Mathabo Mathebula receives the Covid-19 vaccine earlier this month. File picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Vaccination of health workers in Gauteng a ’fiasco’ – DA

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Feb 22, 2021

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PRETORIA – The DA in Gauteng on Monday said the vaccination of healthcare workers degenerated into chaos as crowds pushed to get the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday.

“It is highly disappointing that the vaccination of health workers degenerated into chaos this past Sunday as hundreds queued for hours at the Steve Biko Hospital, and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital did not even open for vaccinations.

“There was confusion and unsafe crowding at the Steve Biko Hospital as more than 1 000 nurses and doctors queued there yesterday (Sunday) after receiving messages that they had been registered to receive the vaccine,” said the DA's spokesperson for health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom.

He said Gauteng had received 16 800 Johnson & Johnson doses but these were only being administered at the two public hospitals.

“It is inexcusable that no vaccinations were done on Sunday at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital despite earlier promises in this regard. Every day is precious in rolling out the vaccine as soon as possible. It also appears that priority was not always given to those health workers who deal directly with Covid-19 patients rather than other medical fields,” said Bloom.

“The vaccine fiasco this weekend highlights the urgent need for more vaccine roll-out sites, including the private health sector. It is not practical for thousands of health workers to take time off during the week from their busy hospitals to go to only two vaccination sites in the province.”

The DA said it hoped the “teething problems” with the vaccine roll-out would be sorted out soon and that multiple options would be made available to assist health workers who work in the most risky positions.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi said health-care workers “flooded” the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on Sunday as demand for the vaccine had grown significantly. She said the health professionals feared the vaccine might run out before they got their jabs.

“We want to reassure our health-care workers that there is no need to panic as none of them will be left behind. To do so would be catastrophic and will leave the system exposed as they are an integral part of the health-care system. The implementation study is being rolled out in phases, which started with the Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital to both private and public front-line workers,” said Mokgethi.

“All our facilities in the province will be covered as the vaccine doses gets delivered to the province.”

She said of the 16 800 Johnson & Johnson doses received by Gauteng, 11 080 will be administered at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, while the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria will administer 5 720 doses.

“As of Saturday, 20 February, 2 134 health-care workers, which is inclusive of organised labour leadership who are health professionals, were vaccinated. We are encouraged by the commitment shown by the health-care workers and organised labour. The demand to get vaccinated has been growing since this programme started,” said Mokgethi.

“We will continue engaging other stakeholders as we are all aware that the fight against Covid-19 is far from over and it requires collective effort.”

She said the vaccination roll-out formed part of the implementation study led by the South African Medical Research Council and the national Department of Health.

The vaccination drive in Gauteng will be rolled out in three phases, with phase one starting with front-line health-care workers, the second phase focusing on the vaccination of essential workers, people in congregate settings, people over 60 years and people over 18 years with comorbidities, and the third phase focusing on people older than 18 years.

Mokgethi has called on health-care workers in Gauteng who are yet to register on the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) portal to do so.

– African News Agency

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