A health official draws a dose of the AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Picture: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
A health official draws a dose of the AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Picture: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Medical staff have been trained to administer Covid vaccines

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Feb 1, 2021

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Each person set to administer the Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa has been undergoing training and is qualified to do so.

According to the head of the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Dr Melinda Suchard, only trained vaccinators whose scope of practice allows vaccination – such as nurses, doctors and pharmacists – may administer the vaccine.

"Additionally, the national Department of Health has provided additional training regarding Covid-19 vaccines since mid-January, ongoing," she said.

Meanwhile, preparations are under way as President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize took delivery of the country's first batch of Covid vaccines.

Healthcare workers and those in the front-lines of the war against the coronavirus are expected to be vaccinated first.

Suchard said the AstraZeneca vaccine had already been used on millions of people, particularly in the UK and other European counties, with good feedback regarding safety and acceptability.

"It is too early to tell its effect on caseloads because insufficient people have been vaccinated to reach population herd immunity in most countries," she said.

Suchard said the vaccine, which can stay in storage under controlled cold chain until its expiry date, will be rolled out as per the guidelines of each province.

Commenting on the roll-out, she said each province and district had arranged its own roll-out and healthworker vaccination should begin very soon but may differ by location.

Suchard added there were no risks of contamination and the vaccine was transported and sealed in vials in secondary packaging under controlled temperatures.

She added it usually takes two to three weeks for vaccines to start activating the immune system.

"Most vaccines require a booster dose. The best immune responses only appear two to three weeks after the booster dose," she said.

The vaccines arrived in South Africa today.

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