'We are taking a giant step, like a baby' — David Makhura hails Gauteng rollout of Covid vaccines

The scene at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital as health workers prepare to give their colleagues the jab. Sixteen thousand health workers in Gauteng will be vaccinated in the next two weeks.
The scene at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital as health workers prepare to give their colleagues the jab. Sixteen thousand health workers in Gauteng will be vaccinated in the next two weeks.
Image: Gauteng government

Dr Steve Mankupane, acting CEO of Soweto's Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, will be among the first health workers in Gauteng to be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Gauteng health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi has already received a jab at Bara. She described it an exciting moment for health professionals. “At least they have hope. They were working without protection.”

Dr Tsitsi Merika, head of the Covid programme at the hospital, said they will vaccinate 40 health-care workers on Wednesday.

Between 400 and 600 people will be vaccinated daily at the facility, he said, adding that as health workers, they appreciate that they have been prioritised as they have been working hard the past 11 months.

The inoculation programme kicked off in SA on Wednesday afternoon, after the arrival of the first batch of 80,000 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Tuesday evening.

Gauteng health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi gets her potentially life-saving shot.
Gauteng health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi gets her potentially life-saving shot.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Gauteng premier David Makhura toured the vaccination centre at Baragwanath ahead of a scheduled visit later in the day to Tshwane's Steve Biko Academic Hospital, which has also been designated as a venue for the vaccine rollout.

Makhura said Gauteng received 16,800 doses, of which 11,800 were allocated to Baragwanath because it is the largest hospital in the province. He said 5,000 doses will be administered at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

“We know that vaccines are a game changer in the fight against this pandemic,”

Makhura said he would not be getting his jab today, adding that he is only there to observe how the rollout goes.

“I'm also waiting patiently in the queue with the other 10.4 million people in Gauteng. Health workers are a priority,” he said.

“I'm ready to be vaccinated when we are done with our front-line workers.

“Our first vaccinee in our province is a health worker. She's a nurse, that's why she is the first in our province,” he said.

Makhura said this was a new dawn.

“Today is a much brighter day and it's a start to make us realise our goal — for the 67% of people in Gauteng that need to be vaccinated,” he said.

“We are taking a giant step, like a baby,” Makhura said.

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