PICS: Hundreds of healthcare workers ignore social distancing rules to queue for Covid-19 vaccines at Durban hospital
Share this article:
Durban - Hundreds of health care workers - many of them uninvited and fuelled by panic - descended on St Augustine’ s Hospital on Wednesday for a Covid-19 vaccine causing chaos outside.
The premises outside the hospital saw a bottleneck of people crammed in close confines with no social distancing in place as they snaked their way into a queue, raising concerns that they may in fact contribute to spreading the virus.
The police tried to intervene and requested they apply social distancing but this did not help the situation.
Jacques du Plessis, the managing director of Netcare Hospitals said that they had seen an influx of people arriving at the hospital who had not supposed to have come as they had not booked an appointment and but had hope to “walk-in”.
This was fuelled by what he said was misinformation which was currently being circulated among health care workers in light of the fact that the Sisonke programme was nearing an end.
“St Augustine’s Hospital and Netcare Milpark Hospital continue to vaccinate only eligible healthcare workers who have registered to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations and who have been pre-booked for vaccination today (Thursday) and tomorrow,” Du Plessis said.
“While both Netcare St Augustine’s and Netcare Milpark hospitals have been set up to vaccinate a high number of healthcare workers, there are no additional vaccination slots available and we are therefore unable vaccinate any walk-ins.
“We therefore strongly urge individuals without appointments not to come to either of these facilities and endanger themselves by arriving en masse,” he stressed.
“As the Sisonke programme, which is focussed on the vaccination of healthcare workers, comes to a close we are seeing an influx of people arriving to be vaccinated. This has not been helped by the misinformation which is currently being circulated,” added Du Plessis.
Du Plessis said that at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, there had been a bottleneck of people queuing outside the facility that has resulted in the lack of social distancing.
“Inside our premises, at the vaccination facilities, we are maintaining social distancing with markings on the ground and chairs carefully distanced, but areas outside of our hospital grounds are unfortunately beyond our control.
“The South African Police Service has repeatedly told people who are gathering outside the premises and who do not have an appointment to leave, and ordered those queuing to respect social distancing guidelines, but to little avail,” he added.
Over the past week, South Africa has ramped up its vaccination programme, vaccinating 77 549 health workers in a week alone. A total of 430 730 people have been vaccinated as of Wednesday night under the Sisonke programme.
On Tuesday, SA recorded the highest number of vaccines administered in one day, about 19 142 vaccines were administered across the country. The day before that St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban set a new vaccination site record when a record 1 828 doses were administered
Du Plessis noted that the vaccination uptake by healthcare workers is commendable.
“There is no shortage of healthcare workers wishing to be vaccinated at this time, and we are working efficiently and carefully, doing our utmost to ensure the safety of everyone.
“However, the challenge we are facing is that many people are arriving to be vaccinated without vouchers. To ensure minimum delay we would like to remind everyone to bring along all the necessary paperwork including proof of employment and identity document or passport.”
He cautioned that the verification and registration process can be time consuming, particularly with so many individuals arriving without having vouchers. “It is therefore of vital importance that the process is properly followed. Only those who arrive with the correct documentation will be able to receive a vaccine, as has always been the case.
“We are pleased that we are able to assist the thousands of healthcare workers coming through our vaccination site at this time, however it is essential that those who arrive are eligible, have registered and have the correct vouchers with them in order to receive their vaccines,” said Du Plessis.