Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

We don’t have enough information about vaccine rollout, says nursing union

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Jan 26, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - In a few days, thousands of health-care workers in the country will be part of phase one of the government’s ambitious Covid-19 vaccination drive. There’s just one problem – many of them don’t know much about it.

Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo said nurses had expressed their concerns about the government’s lack of communication long before the roll-out programme.

“Nurses have been asking questions without (getting) any answers from government,” Delihlazo said. “Many of our members still don’t know the pros and cons of these vaccines and that has led to many saying they won’t be getting the vaccine.

“We are also concerned about the second phase, when members of the public are expected to be vaccinated. If we, nurses… don’t have any knowledge about the vaccine, how are going to convince the public to take it? We are appealing to government to be clear with their communication.”

A Western Cape Health Department poll found only 54% of health workers wanted to be vaccinated. Another 26% were unsure and 19% said they would decline.

In his weekly letter, titled From the Desk of the President, on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government was aware of concerns that the government had not been sufficiently transparent about its efforts.

“For its part, government will work to improve all its channels of communication, to keep the public regularly informed on the development of the vaccination programme, to provide information that is accurate and factual, and to continue to engage with and listen to the broad range of voices in our society.

“All of us need to be part of this national effort and not allow the spread of rumours, fear and mistrust. False information and fake news can and does put lives at risk. We all need to work together to build confidence in the vaccine, to demonstrate its effectiveness and its safety – and to emphasise its vital importance in overcoming this deadly disease,” said Ramaphosa.

The South African Medical Association (Sama), which represents public- and private-sector medical practitioners, said it was working closely with the national Department of Health to get doctors registered on an online app for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said: “We have started, in collaboration with other doctor groupings, a vaccine for health workers initiative whereby we ask the different surgeries to please register the personnel that works with them.

“In phase one, we will get the database of general practitioners in South Africa including their personnel. In phase two also we will ask GPs if they are willing to be part of the vaccination centre when the rest of population will be vaccinated. All this data will go to national Department of Health,” she said.

The Department of Health has yet to respond to queries regarding the story. The article will be updated as soon as it responds.

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