South Africa’s electronic booking system for Covid vaccines is now online
With the country set to get more doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines in the next few weeks, according to the Vaccine Alliance, the minister of health on Wednesday launched the electronic vaccine registration portal.
Describing it as a significant milestone in the fight against Covid-19 and a “matter of pride” the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, launched the Electronic Vaccine Data System Self-Registration Portal on Wednesday, 3 February.
He said more than 34,000 health workers had already registered on the platform and while people not working as health workers can register, they will be excluded from Phase 1 of the vaccination roll-out. Health workers will include traditional healers and funeral workers, the government has announced.
“This is the beginning of a complete vaccination health information system from registration to certification. This system has been developed with that purpose in mind to ensure that we lay solid foundations for digital health information systems that inform the right national policies and interventions.”
He said they are ensuring that this system “talks” to other existing health information platforms to provide critical data at provincial and national levels.
“The system can capture the relevant metrics of all South Africans that will be vaccinated; ensure vaccinees are contactable and alerted to optimise adherence… and complete the certification process such that vaccine certificates are easy to obtain for vaccinees and authorities that may require the certification.”
He invited all active health workers, clinical and non-clinical, public and private, to register on the platform, “in line with the phased approach of the vaccine roll-out plan”. The system will also accept the passport details of those who are not South African citizens.
“The system will then verify that one is a health worker by checking against the data provided by [various] systems and other data from organisations and other bodies that employ or regulate healthcare workers. Therefore, whilst it is possible to register on the site if one is not a healthcare worker, the system will automatically prioritise verified health workers for the period of Phase 1.
“It takes less than 1 megabyte [of data] and approximately two minutes to complete the registration process,” he said.
Other information required includes medical aid details, if relevant, and details of registration with professional bodies. The registration must be completed in a single sitting and will not save information if the whole form is not completed.
Mkhize said health workers who are struggling to register must seek help from the occupational health and safety representative in their municipality.
“In the event that a healthcare worker has not self-registered you will not be denied the vaccination. You will be registered at the vaccination site, it might just take a few minutes longer. We would, however, encourage all healthcare workers to register before the inoculation call because this will help us to know how to refine our current allocations and get enough vaccines to the right vaccine centres at the right time,” he said.
The Department of Health’s Acting Chief Operating Officer, Milani Wolmarans, said the system will be available on mobile phones and on desktops.
After registering on the site, a notification will be sent to the person’s phone. Another message will inform the person where and when they must go to get the vaccine. This message will contain a vaccination code that will be used to track the process. At the vaccination site an official will confirm that the person is eligible and then confirm the vaccination code.
A similar process will be followed for the second dose, after which a vaccination certificate will be issued.
In a guide to the vaccination process released on Tuesday, the Department of Health urged health workers to register as this would make it easier to plan the supply of vaccines and ancillary items, allocate beneficiaries to their nearest available service point and communicate with enrolled individuals about the vaccination programme.
The international vaccine alliance Gavi on Wednesday also announced its allocation of additional doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Pfizer vaccine to qualifying countries, including South Africa through the Covax agreement.
Covax is the financial instrument used to pay for Covid-19 vaccines with the intention of making sufficient doses available to low and middle-income countries.
Depending on the approval of the emergency listing of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine that is currently underway, an additional 2.9 million doses will be made available to South Africa as well as 117,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
According to a statement released by Gavi, the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine is subject to readiness checks to make sure that facilities can handle the ultralow cold chain required by the vaccine. The vaccine must be stored at -70°C.
A million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport from the Serum Institute in India on Monday afternoon and will be rolled out to the provinces once quality assurance testing has been completed. DM/MC
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