This is how provinces plan to roll-out the Covid-19 vaccine
by KARABO NGOEPE, MANYANE MANYANE, ROLAND MPOFU and NOKWANDA NCWANE
Johannesburg - South Africa has identified herd immunity as the best solution in dealing with the pandemic and the government intends to vaccinate at least 40 million people in a bid to win the war against Covid-19.
Some of the provincial departments of health have indicated readiness to hit the ground running when the vaccine arrives while others appear to still be chasing their tails and not knowing if they are coming or going.
The Gauteng Department of Health said it would use the same methodology as the national department to roll out its programme. Spokesperson, Kwara Kekana said the strategy would be divided into three phases.
“The first phase which involves the frontline healthcare workers, about 150 000 in both the public and the private sector,” she said.
The second phase has been divided into four categories, first are the essential workers – the police, teachers, military; second will be the people in congregated areas like prisons, shelters and old age homes.
“Third are all people over the age of 60 years and the fourth category will be all above the age of 18 with co-morbidities. And lastly will be all people over the age of 18,” said Kekana.
The province added it was still busy finalising the exact number of sites that will be required to assist with the roll-out. Kekana said the process was very complex.
The Western Cape Government said it had developed a strategy to ensure that vaccines are rolled out safely, efficiently and ethically when the first doses arrive. Spokesperson Nomawethu Sbukwana said they have already started the work to put the correct systems in place to manage the massive operation.
It also involves a three-phase approach with the frontline healthcare workers being first in line.
“We have estimated that there are approximately 100 000 healthcare workers in the public and private sector. This number will also include community healthcare workers, care workers and health science students. Essential workers, those in congregate settings (such as care homes), those over 60 years old, and those over 18 with co-morbidities,” she said.
The last phase will be for everyone over the age of 18 willing to take the vaccine.
“The vaccine has not been tested for safety in pregnant women and in children and will not be administered to these groups. We have appointed a vaccine advisory committee, made up of experts who will advise us on matters including science and ethics throughout the process,” she said.
In managing the logistics, Sbukwana said facilities offering vaccination, as well as those individuals doing the vaccinating will be pre-registered and accredited. That will be followed by the creation of a vaccination register which will be similar to a voters role and list those who require vaccinating.
“In this regard, we have started consultations with the IEC to share information about the systems they use. Those on the register will receive an appointment time and date, where they sign a consent form, receive their first dose, and an appointment date for their second dose. They will also be issued with proof of vaccination,” she said.
Sbukwana added that the response in the province has been positive to receiving the vaccine. She, however, indicated that no one would be forced to take it.
“Accepting the vaccine is also voluntary and as found at these engagements, many health care workers are looking forward to receiving their jabs,” she said.
The Eastern Cape Health Department said it planned to vaccinate 3.7 million people within six to nine months. Spokesperson Judakazi Ngoloyi said based on their plan, each vaccinator will be required to vaccinate at least 50 people per day to meet the set target.
“Therefore, 571 vaccinators will need to be employed. The province has 794 clinics, CHC and hospitals that will need to service 5 414 residential areas,” he said.
The province said it would take a leaf from the IEC book of utilising schools, churches and community centres as vaccination sites. He added that temporary vaccination centres would be set up to ensure that people don’t have to travel long distances to get their jabs.
“We plan to have a vaccination site not further than 5km on average for the person to travel. Spatial analysis of the 5 414 communities across the Eastern Cape was completed (to achieve this),” he said.
The North West government said it was still busy finalising its plan which would see vaccine Coordinating Committees which include political and technical expertise being set up.
Premier Job Mokgoro said he had tasked the department of health and the committees to determine the state of readiness to roll-out the vaccine but responding to 23 key questions that would also help to keep track of progress.
“I have also tasked them with indicating if there is budget available and if not, what is the shortfall and what is the cost-sharing agreement between public and private sectors in the North West,” he said.
Being a rural province, one of the headaches he sits with is people in far-flung areas having access to the vaccine.
“They need to explain if there is a specific plan for rural areas or places with poor distribution of health professionals,” he said.
Free State Health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said the province was still finalising its plan which would be ready by this week.
“The provincial plan is being worked out and is to be finalised by week of January 25 to January 29 2021 to ensure that the province is adequately capacitated to implement the vaccine rollout as outlined by the minister. These will be done according to the provincial vaccination plan which is currently undergoing thorough consultations with the facilities where vaccination and collection for storage will be done,” said Mvambi.
Mvambi added that the province has 47 vaccination sites for the first phase of the rollout, and 30 collection sites which would serve as vaccine storage sites.
“At least 17 private hospitals will also be designated as vaccination sites but not collection sites because they do not meet the storage requirements of the manufactures.”
The provincial department of health said their strategy was still being finalised and would be communicated at a later stage. Spokesperson, Ntokozo Maphisa said: “When everything has been finalised and approved by the cabinet, the KZN Premier and KZN Health MEC will hold a media briefing to address the public.”
In Mpumalanga, the department said the draft plan was available but the department was busy with consultations. “We are unable to give more details until all the consultation processes are complete,” said Chris Nobela.
Limpopo health department’s Neil Shikwambana pulled his famous Houdini act of disappearing after being sent questions, despite having promised to respond.
The Northern Cape’s Lebogang Mahajana also said he would revert shortly but failed to honour his word.