Sister Ndzishe, who works at Luvoyo clinic receives her Covid 19 vaccine at Khayelitsha District hospital. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)
Sister Ndzishe, who works at Luvoyo clinic receives her Covid 19 vaccine at Khayelitsha District hospital. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

More than 10 000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated, says Health Department

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 21, 2021

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Cape Town - By the end of Saturday, more than 10 000 healthcare workers had already been successfully vaccinated, the Health Department said on Sunday.

South Africa is rapidly moving to protect its healthcare workers through the Sisonke Early Access Programme, the health department said.

“A threat to their safety and wellbeing has a further impact on the health systems capacity to deal with people with Covid-19 during the pandemic. It should be noted that ’The Sisonke Early Access Programme'’was launched on the 17th February. By the end of Saturday 21st February, more than 10 000 healthcare workers have already been successfully vaccinated,” the department said.

On Wednesday, Cape Town nurse Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi became the first healthcare worker to get vaccinated for the coronavirus in South Africa. Gidi-Dyosi, along with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Khayelitsha Hospital after 80 000 doses arrived from abroad late on Tuesday.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, used in the Sisonke programme, provides 57% protection against moderate-severe disease, 85% protection against severe disease and 100% protection against death, based on evidence from the clinical trials that included South African participants, the department said.

Through the Sisonke Programme, the department has allocated one third of all vaccine doses available to private healthcare workers. This means that one third of the first 80 000 vaccines will be allocated to the private sector over the next 14 days, the department said.

“Despite limited planning time and a change in implementation from the CoviShield to the J&J vaccine, the programme has already vaccinated more than 3,000 healthcare workers from the private sector.

“This was only made possible through close cooperation between department of health officials, site staff, private sector leadership, and the Sisonke programme staff.

“All health care workers irrespective of where they work need to be vaccinated. This is critical and is aligned with the national prioritization framework for Phase 1 of the national vaccine roll out programme, the department said.

“We know that the surge demand from healthcare workers is mirrored in many other countries including the UK and India and is not necessarily unique to South Africa. We appreciate the patience of healthcare workers as we work tirelessly to roll out this large-scale program in record time. There are a number of process related issues the departments of health, private sector partners and the Sisonke Programme team are working towards resolving in real time to alleviate the wait times. We are confident that our partnership across public and private sectors will help to overcome these short-term process challenges and result in us being able to protect many healthcare workers in a shorter period of time,” the statement said.

“We are fully committed to protect the vulnerable healthcare workers who have sacrificed so much over the past year in putting themselves on the front line. They have dealt with so much loss, pain and tragedy and we see their desire to be vaccinated as an expression of their hope, confidence and optimism. Healthcare workers across the country are today breathing a sigh of relief and rebuilding much needed morale on the front line. We are deeply appreciative to many leaders across the health system who have so willingly volunteered their time and expertise to help this national effort and in the words of one clinician expressing this as their ‘Thuma Mina’ moment for their country.”

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