File picture: Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency (ANA).
File picture: Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency (ANA).

Gauteng vaccine roll-out sites still a mess

By Roland Mpofu Time of article published Apr 11, 2021

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Pretoria - Two vaccination sites earmarked for public vaccination against Covid-19 in Gauteng are ready only on paper not on the ground.

This was witnessed on Thursday during a visit by the Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile to inspect the state of readiness at the sites in Tshwane which have been identified for the much-anticipated vaccination roll-out.

Members of the executive council visited various vaccination sites and according to the Gauteng Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana, the visits formed part of the provincial government’s programme to ensure Gauteng’s readiness to administer the Covid-19 vaccine as more doses are expected. At the Saulsville Arena, a visibly shocked Maile asked why

“we were at an empty place”? The Gauteng deputy director for clinic operations Mariah Khobo explained that the purpose of the visit was to do a checklist of what a site can offer, not to say the things on the checklist were already on site.

Khobo, who was at pains to convince the already surprised delegates, said in terms of general vaccine service requirements, the site was suitable for the vaccination roll-out as the area was directly exposed to sunlight and was clean.

The site can enough space for physical distancing, a waiting area and the immunisation station, she added. However, all the critical checklist items require for the vaccination roll-out, such as, supplies and resources to facilitate effective vaccine administration, could not be sufficiently accounted for, in relation to the total number of trained vaccinators for the site, and now many vaccinations the site will be equipped to administer per day.

How many trained vaccinators are available for this site? How many vaccinations does the site propose to provide per day? How many dedicated computers for the EVDS (Electronic Vaccination Data System) data capture and reporting? These were some of the questions Khobo was unable to provide answers for and she also said the centre had no back-up generator to which Maile said the Tshwane municipality should provide.

Khobo also said that in terms of vaccine storage and redistribution there were no fridges.

“The vaccines will be transported to the site on a daily basis.”

Another problem at this centre is the ablution facilities which have not been working for two years. This was revealed by the local councillor Mthobeli

Celiphile. The only functioning toilet was one designated for women which was being used by men as well and there was water on the floor from a leaking pipe.

The second site visited was Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, which was in a worse state than the first site, in terms of preparedness.

It was visibly clear that the grass was cut a day before if not in the morning of the visit.

Khobo said the a tent would be installed at the site to which Maile refused opting for a community hall or nearby churches, saying he tent would cause another problem of irregular spending of the funds meant for the vaccination roll-out.

When pressed to answer why the visited sites were not up to scratch for the huge task ahead, Maile, who became somewhat irritated, responded: “Mfondini ufunani? Ufuna into enjani wena kanti? (My brother what do you want? What kind of a thing do you want?) You want me to renovate the building? Did you want to find the vaccines? We are preparing. That is why we are here.”

Another senior health official appealed to Maile for extra funding as they anticipated that the R135 million budget would run out before the end of year.

One has to wonder and ask why Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi took a tour with the national Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to vaccine roll-out sites which are already in good state such as the one at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, which had already vaccinated more than 70 000 healthcare workers in the first phase of the roll-out, leaving out ones that need more attention, like the sites visited by Maile.

Sunday Independent

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