Western Cape sets the record straight on walk-ins, ‘queue jumpers’ and its roadmap for 2021
The Western Cape is planning to activate more than 200 public sector vaccination sites in the coming weeks to make sure all residents have a site on their doorstep, that more appointments are made available and that vaccinations increase before the looming third wave.
There are presently 53 active vaccination sites in the province. The full list can be found here. By 26 May, there were 297,343 people over 60 registered to receive the vaccine and 30,000 doses of the double-shot Pfizer vaccine had been administered.
Presently, seven Clicks sites are online. Mediclinic will add four on 28 May; Dis-Chem will add two on 1 June and Discovery will add two on a date to be confirmed.
The province’s department of health will provide weekly updates of which sites will become active in that week. This will include sites at private health facilities and workplaces, according to the head of the province’s department of health, Dr Keith Cloete.
Cloete was speaking during Premier Alan Winde’s weekly digital conference on 27 May to provide an update on the province’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.
Cloete expects that there will be a site close to each town by 6 June and more than 100 public sector sites to become active by 13 June.
As vaccination sites and available doses increase, so too will the number of vaccinations each day, said Cloete. The minimum vaccination targets are as follows:
- Week one: 2,000 doses a day
- Week two: 6,000 doses a day
- Week three: 12,000 doses a day
- Week four: 24,000 doses a day
This increase in sites will mean that more appointment slots will become available. As a result, more SMSes will be sent to registered people, Cloete explained. The province is planning to soon begin alerting people with a week’s notice so that they have ample time to plan their trip.
The province has seen a “large number” of walk-ins in the eight days of the roll-out. This is despite public messaging that they will not be accommodated, said Cloete. Nonetheless, “We need to find a balance between scheduled clients and walk-ins to keep waiting times to a minimum,” he said.
The Western Cape therefore will allow walk-ins at its vaccination sites; however, those with appointments will be prioritised.
Those who have received an SMS stating when and where they will be vaccinated will be given priority on that day at the vaccination sites, said Cloete. He explained that they will all be processed first and walk-ins will be seen to thereafter.
However, it is not guaranteed that someone who has arrived without an appointment will receive a jab that day — it all depends on how many doses are available and if vaccinators are available to administer it, he explained.
The province will provide a small number of doses to accommodate walk-ins at each site. The doses not administered because of a missed appointment will also be given to walk-ins. Between 5% and 25% of appointments are missed at this stage, according to Winde.
There will be separate queues for those who have registered and those who have not. In addition, some sites will have facilities to help people to register.
Cloete and Winde encouraged residents to register. This will guarantee they get their dose and will decrease congestion at the sites. This will help the system to run more smoothly and quickly and will help with lowering the risk of spreading Covid-19.
There are marshals at each site enforcing physical distancing, mask-wearing and sanitising protocols, said Cloete.
This is especially important as the province has seen a resurgence in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks. Cloete said there was no exponential increase in cases yet and that behaviour was the single most important factor in keeping the third wave at bay.
This is to protect lives and to ensure healthcare workers do not have to endure the enormous pressure of handling Covid-19 cases, vaccinations and routine duties at the same time.
Barriers to registration are still a concern. The province has zero-rated the registration portal when accessed while connected to the province’s Wi-Fi spots. It has launched a new call centre to deal with any questions related to registration. Call 0860 142 142 or email [email protected].
In addition, on-site registration will be allowed in some areas where registration has been low.
Residents will soon be able to access an online tool that will confirm if they are registered, said Cloete.
Outreach teams who vaccinate residents of old age homes will also begin to visit and vaccinate the elderly who are house-bound. This will be by appointment and is a limited service. Their carers will be vaccinated according to their age, said Cloete.
As reported on 26 May, some people under 60 years old were registering as health workers to get the vaccine. As a result, that part of the portal has been closed.
This has also happened in the Western Cape. “It’s a very sad day when you have to close a registration portal for healthcare workers because the general public misrepresented themselves to get a vaccine”, said Cloete.
Winde acknowledged that “we haven’t had a discussion about what further consequence there could be” for people who misrepresent themselves to get a jab. He mentioned that there had been much public ridicule of those who have done this.
Health workers who have registered will have to provide proof of their employment in the sector, said Winde.
Looking ahead, the province will move from one age band to the next once about 70% of that target population has been vaccinated. Registration within that band will then be brought forward.
The Western Cape is as follows:
- Over 60 years old: 17 May 2021 to 30 June 2021 (719,668 people)
- Over 40 years old: 1 July 2021 to 30 October 2021 (1.6-million people)
- Over 18 years old: 1 November 2021 to 28 February 2022 (2.7-million people)
On 31 May, the province will begin vaccinating national and provincial public sector employees. This will be according to age, beginning with those over 60 and then those over 40. EMS Pinelands will be a dedicated site for these roughly 30,000 people.
How to register
Register to be vaccinated during Phase 2 here: https://vaccination.health.gov.za/#/.
Alternatively, register on WhatsApp by sending “REGISTER” to 0600 123456.
Or register by SMS by dialling *134*832*your ID number#. If you don’t have an ID number, just dial *134*832#. You do not need a smartphone, airtime or data to register by SMS.
If you encounter any difficulties, call the Covid-19 hotline on 0800 029 999. DM/MC
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