It's all systems go for vaccination of the elderly at Bertha Gxowa Hospital

Pule Koloko, 73, getting his jab during the phase 2 vaccination programme in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.
Pule Koloko, 73, getting his jab during the phase 2 vaccination programme in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.
Image: Antonio Muchave

It will take an elderly person an estimated one-and-a-half hour from the start of the vaccination process until the time they are done.

This is the commitment made by the vaccination centre manager at Bertha Gxowa Hospital in Germiston, on the East Rand, Dr Rufus Thoka, who welcomed the elderly at the hospital on Monday.

The hospital is one of several centres that have opened their doors for the second phase of government’s vaccination programme that begun on Monday morning.

Thoka said he anticipated that there will be more people coming to the centre as the week progresses. The process has been designed to ensure that it caters for the needs of the elderly.

 “We’ve arranged that all the waiting areas have chairs so that at no point will an elderly person have to stand for a long time,” Thoka said.

Sibongile Makoteni, during the second phase of vaccination programme in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.
Sibongile Makoteni, during the second phase of vaccination programme in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.
Image: Antonio Muchave

When the elderly arrive, they are first screened as per Covid-19 regulations and then they get directed to a verification area where the staff check if they are registered to get the vaccine.

After they are verified, the person then goes to another waiting area where they wait to be called into the vaccination hall. The person is then moved to the vaccinator who verifies several medical questions.

These includes whether the person has not received a flu vaccine in the last two weeks and have not had Covid-19  in the last month. When that is done, the person signs a consent form and the vaccine is administered.

“If the patient has no complications, he or she is taken to the observation area for 14 minutes. If a person has asthma or heart problems, they are taken to a separate observation area where a doctor and two sisters take their vitals. You wait at this section for 20 minutes. An ambulance is also waiting for any eventualities.

Berth Gxowa Hospital has the capacity to vaccinate about 500 people a day, using the Pfizer vaccine.

“We are not allowing walk-ins but the elderly can visit any local clinic where they can be registered,” Thoka said.

At 11am, the elderly had already been seated at the waiting area, having done the verification process, now waiting for the vaccines.

Government’s vaccination programme for the rest of the country begun on Monday. It will run parallel with the first phase of the programme which targeted health workers.

Over the weekend, health minister Zweli Mkhize said 87 sites will open across the country for this leg of vaccination.

Government targets to vaccinates about 5 million senior citizens by the end of June, provided there is enough supply of vaccine.

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