Provinces and private sector roll out Covid-19 vaccine sites as third wave hits

By Christi Nortier and Estelle Ellis 22 May 2021

A Kenyan healthcare worker prepares to administer an Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine dose to her colleagues during the official launch of vaccinating health workers at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), in Nairobi, Kenya, 05 March 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE/DANIEL IRUNGU)

The roll-out started against the grim background of a third wave of coronavirus infections hitting the country.

Christi Nortier and Estelle Ellis

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

In the first week of South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, 116,714 people received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

There are currently 177 operational sites, 155 in the public sector and 22 in the private sector. This exceeds the goal set by Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize to have 130 vaccination sites by the end of the week.

He later increased the goal to 200.

Dr Nicholas Crisp, who is overseeing the national electronic vaccine registration system, said they were delighted by the numbers they were seeing coming through from some provinces.

“I want to stress that the system has been designed to protect people. They must just be patient. We will get to everybody,” he said.

He added that the team working on the system were all exhausted.

“We owe them a great deal of gratitude for the work they have done.”

Crisp said they were blocking appointment SMSes in Mangaung in the Free State earlier in the week as ongoing service delivery protests made it impossible to carry on with vaccinations. He added that at other Free State sites vaccinations ran smoothly.

Provincial health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said they had moved a site when service delivery protests made it difficult for them to proceed. By 20 May the province had vaccinated 478 elderly people at old age homes. The province managed around 1,500 vaccinations in the week.

KwaZulu-Natal was leading the vaccination race with 17,560 people vaccinated in a single day, including 12,511 elderly people, 4,201 healthcare workers, 1,707 residents of old age homes and 754 vaccines were given at private healthcare sites.

Nine thousand extra doses of the vaccine were sent to the Eastern Cape after it ran out due to “overwhelming demand” said health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo. The roll-out started against the grim background of a third wave of coronavirus infections hitting the country. According to the latest data from the Department of Health, Gauteng currently has the most active cases at 10,382. A total of 1,797 people are currently hospitalised in both public and private facilities in Gauteng.

According to a 6 May update from the Gauteng Command Council, the province had made 4,415 beds available for Covid-19; 4,064 beds are functional: 3,261 for admissions and 803 for quarantine and isolation.

The Free State, which was first to be hit by the third wave, now has 6,523 cases, and the Northern Cape has 6,814 active cases.

The country also recorded another 61 Covid-19 related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths as a result of confirmed Covid-19 to 55,568. The South African Medical Research Council has reported that for the week ending 15 May, the numbers of deaths from natural causes in the Free State and Northern Cape are “concerningly high”.

Excess deaths are used as an indication of deaths due to natural causes that could have been caused by unconfirmed Covid-19.

The Eastern Cape saw a doubling of cases in the past week, from just more than 200 cases to 503 cases. The Western Cape currently has 1,980 active cases.

Discovery Health began the week by opening one mass vaccination site in Sandton. It also experienced a technical “glitch”, which was resolved within hours. Mediclinic is set to start vaccination at nine of its hospitals in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and Gauteng from 24 May.

Clicks Pharmacies started vaccinating people over 60 from 20 May, as part of Phase 2 of the Government’s national Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. “Our Clicks vaccinators are proud to be of service and ready to welcome our elderly community,” said Clicks chief commercial officer Rachel Wrigglesworth.

“Our healthcare professionals have been trained and are administering vaccinations safely and efficiently. Vaccinations save lives and are critical in building herd immunity.” DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.


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