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Vaccination teams are on their way into communities, says health boss

Roving vaccination teams will soon start operating in community halls around the country. File photo
Roving vaccination teams will soon start operating in community halls around the country. File photo
Image: REUTERS/Emily Elconin

Roving teams of Covid-19 vaccinators will soon be operating at community halls around the country.

And once they have registered for a vaccination, people with internet access will soon be able to choose their vaccination site, date and time.

These developments emerged on Friday at a health department briefing on the pandemic chaired by acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi.

Health department director-general Sandile Buthelezi said the roving teams would aim to do mass vaccinations at the rate of up to 1,000 a day to inoculate a community, then move to a new area.

Buthelezi said mass vaccination sites would be added around the country based on those already operating in the Western Cape (Athlone Stadium and Cape Town International Convention Centre), KwaZulu-Natal (Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Royal Show Grounds) and Gauteng (Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital).

The Solidarity Fund would pay for the set-up and operating costs at these mass sites, said Buthelezi.

A successful pilot scheme this month offering vaccinations at South African Social Security Agency pay points in five provinces will lead to a four-day campaign in the first week of August. Buthelezi said the target was to vaccinate 400,000 people.

Melanie Wolmarans, the health department official in charge of the electronic vaccination data system (EVDS), said a complementary system was being developed, allowing registered people to select their vaccination site, date and time.

The system would be tested next week and the target was to make it operational by the end of the first week of August, said Wolmarans.

The EVDS now operates in five languages — English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Xhosa and Zulu — on all three platforms people can use to access it: online, WhatsApp and USSD.

Business for SA's Martin Kingston said a daily total of 419,200 vaccinations should be achievable by the beginning of September.

This was as a result of collaboration between business, the government and civil society in expanding the vaccination programme, he said.

Kingston, who heads the steering committee of Business for South Africa, said by the end of the year 35-million vaccine doses will have been administered.

Prof Glenda Gray, head of the South African Medical Research Council, said all global evidence pointed to the need to vaccinate as many people as possible to curb this “devastating pandemic” and that the science showed the benefits far outweigh the small risks.

“I need to remind South Africa that we have had over 200,000 excess deaths and how important it is for us to control this virus,” she said.

“I need to remind South Africans that the only way is via global immunisation, and this means everyone needs to be vaccinated.”


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