Cape Town – With the the first 1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine expected to arrive in the country on Monday, the Western Cape government believes it is important people understand the science behind vaccines and that it builds trust.
This after a Department of Health rapid poll showed that of the 1 680 responses received so far, 54% have indicated that they would take the vaccine, 19% have indicated they would not and 26% were still undecided.
’’When the first vaccine doses arrive in the province, it is of utmost importance that they are rolled out efficiently, effectively and ethically,“ the Western Cape government said in a statement on Thursday.
’’The Western Cape government is working hard to ensure that everything is in place and all systems are ready to begin vaccinating as soon as possible.
’’The National Department of Health has now confirmed that the first 1 million doses, announced by National Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, are expected to arrive in the country on 1 February.
’’Once this has happened, certain processes need to take place before the first vaccines can be administered. This includes:
- Sahpra needs to conduct a quality control process, which will be accelerated.
- The Biovac Institute will then distribute vaccines to the provinces. We anticipate their arrival within the next two weeks.
- Once here, the Western Cape Department of Health will be responsible for their distribution. This will be undertaken by our Central Medical Depot.
- The depot will distribute vaccines to our provincial healthcare facilities, City of Cape Town facilities as well as to the private sector facilities.
’’It is important to us that throughout the entire vaccination programme, we are transparent, and that we share credible, science-based information with our healthcare workers who will be the first to receive the vaccine, and with members of the public.
’’We understand that there may be a fear of the unknown, which is exacerbated by fear and mixed messages on social media and in communities. We will therefore be taking steps to build vaccination confidence by:
- Addressing medical concerns such as whether the vaccine is effective, whether it is effective against the variant and whether the vaccine is safe.
- Addressing religious and cultural concerns. This week, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo met traditional healers, where she engaged with them on their concerns and questions and we will continue to hold frank discussions.
- Addressing misinformation. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a lot of misinformation about Covid-19 and similar misinformation exists around the vaccine. As we have done from day one of the pandemic, this government will continue to be open and honest with our residents.
’’We have therefore set about developing a set of tools which will provide evidence-led and quality information. This includes developing a workplace readiness toolkit, which includes answers to frequently asked questions, a presentation, guides for managers and updated publications and information.
’’We are also developing remote training materials for vaccinators and will conduct weekly training check-ins and regular Covid-19 information sessions with all of our healthcare workers.
’’The Covid-19 vaccine will be a key drive for this government over the next few months to protect our residents against Covid-19.
’’It however remains imperative that until we have widespread vaccine coverage, we all continue to implement the basic infection prevention measures which we have used up until now including mask wearing, hygiene and handwashing, as well as social distancing.’’
The Western Cape government highlighted that is important to ensure residents are able to safely return to work, and to school, and that the healthcare systems can reintroduce those services which have fallen behind through the pandemic, helping the economy to recover.
’’It is for this reason that the Western Cape cabinet yesterday adopted the Contingency Vaccines Acquisition strategy. Under the strategy, the Department of Health, supported by the Provincial Treasury and the Department of the premier, must coordinate contingency arrangements and ensure that whatever vaccine is acquired, meets all the necessary requirements.
’’The Western Cape fully supports the national vaccine acquisition efforts and in line with the constitutional principles of cooperative governance.
’’However, we find ourselves in a situation globally where there is huge demand for vaccine supply, while suppliers are not yet producing vaccines at scale. A single acquisition vehicle carries inherent risk in this complex global system.
’’This is especially the case in phases 2 and 3 of our vaccine rollout where large numbers of vaccines would be required, and the national government has not yet confirmed available supply for these phases.
’’Centralised procurement requires a contingency plan that is complementary to the national strategy. This does not mean that the province does not support or does not want to be part of the national strategy.
’’We will continue to work with the national Department of Health, and we will, of course, coordinate our efforts with theirs. But we will at the same time ensure we can mitigate the risk and ensure additional pathways to source vaccines.
’’Doing this not only reduces the risk associated with only one supply, but would also support the national effort, as any additional vaccines sourced for the Western Cape would be in support of the national cause overall.’’