First private sector vaccine site for Covid opens in Western Cape

Aron Hyman Reporter
The Western Cape launched SA's first private sector vaccination facility for Covid-19 this week.
The Western Cape launched SA's first private sector vaccination facility for Covid-19 this week.
Image: Sasirin Pamai/123rf.com

SA’s first private sector vaccination site opened in the Western Cape on Tuesday as the province vaccinated its 13,415th person against Covid-19.

Gatesville Melomed health-care centre will be a dedicated site for private sector health-care workers in the Cape Town metro to receive their vaccines, said Western Cape premier Alan Winde.

By Tuesday 73,000 health-care workers had been vaccinated in SA since the rollout of vaccinations first started on February 17.

Winde said vaccines at the Melomed vaccination site will be administered as part of the Sisonke implementation study in which 40% of the Western Cape’s health-care workers will be vaccinated as part of a trial to determine how the vaccine performs in real-life settings.

By Tuesday, 50,271 people had died in SA due to Covid-19 infections, out of a total of more than 1.5 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic in March last year.

The Western Cape has had 11,197 deaths but by Wednesday the number of active cases had decreased to 3,482.

The province recorded 13 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday and Winde expressed condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.

With the opening of the new vaccine centre, Winde warned anyone against attempting to jump the queue by pretending to be doctors.

“The Western Cape government will not tolerate any vaccine fraud nor anyone attempting to pose as a health-care worker to jump the vaccination queue, and investigations will occur,” he said.

Health-care workers going to be vaccinated will need an e-voucher sent to them via SMS, their ID, as well as proof of registration or a staff card proving that they are health-care workers. Winde said these will be cross-checked with the lists of names submitted by each health-care facility to be vaccinated on the day.

The first vaccination rollout outside Cape Town was also planned to start on Wednesday in George as part of the “second tranche” rollout.

“Our three identified rural sites, Worcester, Paarl and George will receive a total of 2,560 of the total 13,068 doses from this second tranche,” said Winde.

“Vaccines in this implementation study are being allocated in four separate tranches, spaced over eight weeks. In this tranche, the Western Cape is administering vaccines at seven sites, with seven more rural sites coming online in tranche three. The final tranche will be used to cover as many health-care workers as possible who were not reached earlier and who wish to be vaccinated,” he said.

SA is currently in its first phase of the vaccine rollout, which restricts vaccines to health-care workers, and Winde said vaccines will be rolled out to the general population in phases 2 and 3.

“In phase 2, essential workers, those living in congregate settings and high-risk individuals, including those aged over 60, and those with comorbidities aged 18 and over, will be eligible to be vaccinated,” he said.

In phase 3, adults older than 18 will be eligible for vaccination, said Winde.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape government is trying to procure its own vaccine supply.

Winde said this was a complex process which required demand forecasting, analysis and regulatory approvals.

“The vaccine is an important tool in helping to protect our highest risk groups such as health-care workers, and our most vulnerable from becoming infected, becoming seriously ill, and dying,” he said.

“With alert level 1 restrictions in place, we must all take responsibility to ensure that we protect ourselves and others. Mask wearing remains compulsory, and it is best to avoid large crowds, confined spaces and close contact. Wash your hands regularly and keep your distance from others to reduce the risk of infection,” said Winde.

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