There were vaccine queue jumpers but no widespread fraud, says Western Cape health head

Healthcare workers queued to get the vaccine rolled out for the Sisonke programme on Thursday at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg and other sites around the country.
Healthcare workers queued to get the vaccine rolled out for the Sisonke programme on Thursday at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg and other sites around the country.
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

Non-healthcare workers who “jumped” the queue and got vaccinated did not commit “widespread fraud”.

This is according to the Western Cape head of health, Dr Keith Cloete, who addressed the outrage over reports of non-healthcare workers receiving the Covid-19 jabs this week.

On social media, poet Lebo Mashile and a technology and motoring journalist were among those accused of “jumping the queue”, after they shared that they had been vaccinated.

This after the Sisonke research programme made a call on Tuesday, saying its trial was open to healthcare workers and health personnel, including non-patient facing health workers, support and administrative staff, staff who work in care homes, and funeral workers, to name a few.

Sisonke made a call on Tuesday, saying its trial was open to all healthcare workers.
Sisonke made a call on Tuesday, saying its trial was open to all healthcare workers.
Image: Sisonke

Addressing the outrage on Thursday, Cloete said the majority of people who got vaccinated did so out of good faith and there was no attempt to wilfully override the system.

“I believe some individuals potentially took advantage of the situation and it's not widespread fraud,” said Cloete.

He said finding all those who faked their way into getting the vaccine would be difficult.

“It will be very difficult to investigate and find them in the bigger context of where we are now,” he added.

Cloete said the trial programme “widened its criteria” for eligibility ahead of the expiry of the trial, not the vaccine, on Saturday.

“The undertaking with Sisonke is that the vaccines that need to be used, need to be used by a certain date, and must be used for the criteria of the people that should be covered by the vaccines,” said Cloete.

“That is why the Sisonke announcement this week was, 'We have doses left and we encourage all healthcare workers to come forward’.

“If the date comes and there are vaccines that have not been used, according to the way any researcher does [their work], they have to reconcile and say, 'We’ve used these vaccines, the rest were not used.’ Then the vaccines need to be returned because they are officially 'research' vaccines.”

Watch the address below from the 49-minute mark:

Cloete said the confusion came after Sisonke broadened the criteria to not only front-line health workers but also people associated with or working in the health sector.

“My take on what happened this week is a combination of two things. There are vaccines to be done by Saturday. There was a concern that there would be a lot of vaccines left if the rate of how we've been going on the last two weeks was going to be the same.

“Therefore there was a concern that the criteria should be opened, and it opened to allow a little bit more people. There was also a call for people to step forward.”


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