After teachers, police, prisons and SANDF next in line for Covid-19 vaccines
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Durban - Police officers, the military and prison warders are the next group of essential workers set to be vaccinated in July following teachers who could expect the jabs in the coming week.
Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said more than 2 million citizens have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine through the national vaccination roll-out which has been besmirched by supply constraints and delays in dose procurement.
The three-phase roll-out, expected to inoculate 67% of the population which translated to about 40.2 million people by February 2022, prioritised citizens by their risk of infection with the goals of achieving herd immunity.
Front line health-care workers had the highest risk of exposure to Covid-19 and were vital for the public health response thus receiving the country’s first jabs during the Sisonke Project of Phase one.
Phase two of the roll-out began on May 17 and pinpointed about 5 million citizens over the age of 60 to get their vaccinations due to the increased rate of mortality among the elderly.
The second phase of the roll-out also included essential workers over the age of 40.
The Health Department confirmed teachers were included in phase 2 and due to be vaccinated with doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of June.
The Health Department’s deputy director-general Nicholas Crisp confirmed that the country received 300 000 J&J vaccines earmarked for teachers on Thursday.
Crisp said the department planned to vaccinate 582 000 public, private and school governing body-appointed teachers.
Crisp said the next consignment of vaccines for the remaining 282 000 teachers were expected from the US next week.
The Basic Education Department said arrangements were currently being made for schools to get designated vaccination sites, and for transport to ferry teachers to the centres.
Crisp upon the completion of vaccinating teachers the Health Department would prioritise the vaccination of the police.
“In managing the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, we have identified 145 000 officials and 36 000 civilians working in the police service.
“Vaccination sites will be set up at police stations, in collaboration with licensed pharmacies,” he said.
Crisp said another vaccination endeavour was aimed at the SANDF and Correctional Services.
“The SANDF has its own military health services and will be vaccinating their own members. Inmates will be vaccinated through Correctional Services, while the department’s staff will get their vaccinations through the same programme run by the Department of Public Service and Administration with the Government Employees Medical Scheme,” he said.
Currently, the country’s vaccine roll-out is dependent on the J&J and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.
Crisp said the country would receive an additional 2 million doses that will be delivered soon.
“What has constrained us as the Department of Health and the vaccine roll-out has been the lack of the availability of vaccines and we know if we want to get more people vaccinated, we need more sites and more vaccines.”
At the onset of the pandemic other essential workers included the likes of cashiers but the plans to vaccinate them remain unclear if they are under the age of 60.
A Pick n Pay spokesperson, Tamra Veley, said: “We will make sure that our colleagues have access to the vaccine at the earliest opportunity, and we have been liaising with the government and others on this critical issue.”
A spokesperson from the Woolworths press office said their priority remained the health and safety of their employees and customers.
“The occupational health regulation updates were released this week and we are currently reviewing them in relation to our business.
“Therefore, no decisions have yet been made in this respect to vaccinations.”