KZN Health MEC sets the record straight on why she hasn’t been vaccinated – yet

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Feb 24, 2021

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KWAZULU-NATAL Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has cleared the air over claims that she refused to be vaccinated "for personal reasons".

Addressing the allegations, the MEC said she would get vaccinated in due course. She said she and KZN Health head of department, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, decided to hold back from getting vaccinated owing to the limited number of vaccines sent to KZN at the moment.

The vaccine roll-out in KZN kicked off last week at the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in uMlazi.

"Yes, we both may be categorised as front-line workers, but there are scores of people who needed the vaccines much more than we do, simply because they work closely with sick people on a daily basis. Our decision is that when the second batch of vaccines comes, we will then get vaccinated," she said.

Simelane said each person, regardless of the office they held, had a right to decline or agree to take the vaccine.

She explained KZN received 10 800 vaccines.

Simelane said the national Department of Health had promised that KZN would get more vaccines in 10 days.

“So, we will get vaccinated. We just won’t do it in Durban, because the province of KZN extends well beyond Durban. We will get our vaccines in rural settings, alongside health-care professionals in those areas, in order to inspire them. It’s a personal choice.

“It is also worth pointing out that it’s not just health-care workers in the public sector who are getting vaccinated, but also 30% of vaccines from the first batch needs to go to the private sector – including general practitioners. Those people, just like our workers in the public sector, deal with patients on a daily basis.

“So, why must I be selfish? Just because I know I can have quick access to the vaccine, then I must get it first? I don’t think that’s fair,” Simelane said.

She said President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize had been vaccinated, which showed that there’s nothing harmful about the vaccine.

Furthermore, more than 1 200 health-care workers in the province have also been vaccinated since Thursday, with no problems.

“It becomes unfortunate when some journalists decide to create a ’story’ where none exists. You cannot – when you have such an important and newsworthy story about health-care workers being relieved and excited at finally getting a vaccine – then decide to single out an individual, and say that this individual has ‘refused’ to take the vaccine, when that is not even true.

“It is very important for journalists to get their facts right, and not pursue sensation for sensation’s sake. They owe their readers and audiences that much,“ the MEC said.

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