Covid-19 vaccines spared but looters steal HIV, TB and diabetes medication

The public is warned not to buy any medicines offered for sale by anyone other than registered medical practitioners, pharmacies or hospitals. File photo.
The public is warned not to buy any medicines offered for sale by anyone other than registered medical practitioners, pharmacies or hospitals. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Alonso Aguilar Ales

While scores of medicines have been stolen during the looting of numerous pharmacies and medical centres in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, no Covid-19 vaccines were lost to looters.

Health department spokesperson Popo Maja told TimesLIVE that Covid-19 vaccines were not affected because they were stored in their own facilities and delivered to vaccination sites accordingly.

The department has, however, been forced to halt Covid-19 vaccinations at some medical facilities that were targeted by looters or those close to looting hotspots. 

“The government and the private sector’s priority is to protect lives and prevent harm to staff, patients and the medical supplies and property that form part of the vaccination programme. Consequently, the government and the private sector are adopting a precautionary principle and will be temporarily closing some vaccination sites which have been damaged, or which may be at risk,” said Maja.

He said anyone who had missed any scheduled vaccinations would be able to reschedule.

“Anyone who had been scheduled to be vaccinated at sites in districts or areas that are affected by the unrest are advised to defer their vaccination. The electronic vaccine data system will automatically reschedule appointments for those unable to attend. It is programmed to reschedule up to two missed appointments.

“If it is not clear whether an area has been affected, the public is advised to contact the vaccination site to which they have been scheduled before proceeding to the site for the administration of vaccines,” Maja said.

The health department was to publicise a list of affected areas soon.

Maja said the department was concerned about the types of medication that was stolen, including chronic medication meant for the treatment of TB, HIV and diabetes.

“The public is warned not to buy any medicines offered for sale by anyone other than registered medical practitioners, pharmacies or hospitals, and to report any attempted sale to the SAPS immediately.

“Stolen or improperly dispensed medicines are extremely dangerous as they may not have been stored properly, may be contaminated, or may cause dangerous side-effects.

“The department is working closely with other departments in the security cluster and private sector to ensure that access to healthcare services and operations at vaccination sites are restored.”

TimesLIVE


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