80 000 healthcare workers to be vaccinated in next 2 weeks

Health Minister, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, says 20 vaccination centres have been identified across nine provinces where 80 000 health care workers will be vaccinated over the next two weeks.

He said this when he participated in a debate on the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday.

Mkhize said on 3 February 2021, government launched the registration portal for the vaccinations campaign.

“I am pleased to inform you that as we speak nearly 380 000 healthcare workers have registered in just under 2 weeks. We salute the health care workers who have chosen vaccination for their own protection and the protection of their colleagues, families and community members.

“We continue to call on all frontline health workers to register on the EVDS portal. We are ready to implement an efficient service for the rollout of the first batch. We have identified 20 vaccination centres in all nine provinces to inoculate 80 000 health care workers over the next two weeks,” he said.

The debate comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the State of the Nation Address during a hybrid joint-sitting of Parliament last Thursday.

Mkhize said 164 vaccinators will vaccinate approximately 48 clients a day- that is about six to seven clients an hour.

He said as more doses arrive in the country, the service will be ramped up accordingly to ensure that we maintain a good rate of daily vaccines.

“To help us overcome the vaccine hesitancy and increase confidence, we are calling on all leaders in all sectors of our society – government, business, labour, political, traditional, faith-based, civil society, arts, sports, music, transport, traditional healers, and all sectors in our society – to stand ready to lead from the front by availing themselves to be vaccinated early as and when they are requested.”

Government engaging vaccine manufacturers through different channels

Mkhize said, meanwhile, that government is actively engaging manufacturers and suppliers of the COVID-19 vaccines through different but interrelated channels.

He said this includes the COVAX facility, bilateral arrangements with pharmaceutical manufacturers and other mechanisms such as the African Union’s Vaccines Financing Strategy and the Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.

“These initiatives have, to-date allowed us to engage with the manufacturers of multiple vaccines, namely AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and the Sputnik V.”

SA in talks with Cuba on development of vaccine

Mkhize said, meanwhile, that government was in talks with Cuba to engage them on the development of their candidate vaccine.

“We have heard the clarion call made by the people of South Africa to accelerate our capacity to develop and manufacture our own COVID-19 tools, including vaccines.

“It is for this reason that we have been engaging our BRICS partners and the government of Cuba to collaborate in a technology sharing exercise that will see us advancing towards independence and self-reliance in a future where there will be more public health threats.