It's official: the Western Cape will start its vaccination programme on February 15.
On Thursday, the head of health in the province, Keith Cloete, said the Western Cape was ready to roll out the programme which would see 138,000 front line health-care workers vaccinated during the first phase.
So far, almost 2,000 vaccinators, mostly health-care workers, have been trained to work at the more than 400 vaccination sites which had already been identified. The training focused on the handling of Covid-19 vaccines, storage and data management.
Addressing the media during premier Alan Winde’s weekly digital conference, Cloete said the province would this week be getting 93 vaccine-friendly fridges in preparation for the arrival of the vaccine stock next week. Generators, including portable generators, had been assessed and are on standby in case of power outages.
The vaccines will be kept at the province’s central depot before distribution to the vaccination sites, which included, among others, public hospitals and Western Province Blood Transfusion Services. There are now 378 public sector facilities and 41 private facilities where vaccination will take place.
Law-enforcement agencies were being briefed to safeguard the vaccines during distribution.
The vaccines will be rolled out in three phases, starting with health-care workers who are on the front line. The aim of the programme is to ensure that the country eventually achieves herd immunity that will prevent severe illness and death, reduce transmission, protect the health-care system and thereby finally defeat the pandemic.
“Without a vaccine, there is a risk that we will continue to have multiple outbreaks or waves of the virus that would result in the loss of many more lives and jobs. We cannot afford extended and ongoing lockdowns and the Covid-19 vaccine provides us with a safe and effective route back to living our lives more normally. It is a reason for all of us to have hope.”