Home News NC Health dept halts J&J vaccine roll-out, awaits guidance from national office

NC Health dept halts J&J vaccine roll-out, awaits guidance from national office

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The Northern Cape has already received a new consignment of J&J vaccines, but has halted the roll-out until it receives word on the way forward from the national Department of Health.

Health MEC Maruping Lekwene. File picture

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Health said on Wednesday that it is awaiting guidance from the national department on the way forward in regards to the roll-out of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the Province.

This follows after the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, on Tuesday night announced that the department would temporarily suspend the roll-out of the vaccine nationally due to concerns over blood clots.

During a virtual media briefing, Mkhize announced that the roll-out will be temporarily suspended following recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on halting the issuing of the vaccine over “potentially dangerous” blood clotting concerns

The briefing came just a few hours after the provincial department had announced that it had received 4,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses that were meant to be distributed to various districts in the Province.

Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Leboganag Majaha said on Wednesday that they are in consultation with the national office on the matter.

“We are communicating with the national department on the way forward. The Province has already received the consignment of vaccines but we have halted the roll-out until we have word from national,” said Majaha.

“We have to respect the concerns of the department and have to deal with the programme in a uniform manner. We have not had any reports of health concerns or blood clots incidents from any of the health care workers who have already received the vaccine in the Province. However, the way forward will be determined by the national office.”

Majaha added that the Northern Cape had on Tuesday received a further consignment of 4,000 J&J vaccine doses that were intended for provincial health care workers.

“As part of government’s efforts to curb the effects of the looming Covid-19 third wave that is expected in the country, the Northern Cape MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, welcomed a further consignment of 4,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses for the Sisonke Early Access Programme in the Province. This brings the total number of vaccines delivered to the Province to 10,600, which are towards the planned target of 14,000 health care workers to be vaccinated in Phase 1 (of the country’s vaccine roll-out),” said Majaha.

“The total number of health care workers vaccinated in the Province currently stands at 5,844 since the vaccination campaign started on February 17, 2021. More than 12,000 health care workers have registered on the electronic vaccine data system (EVDS) in the Province.”

Majaha said that the department had planned to distribute the new batch of vaccines to different districts in the Province, but it would now await guidance from its national office.

“The Sisonke team, supported by the department’s clinical team, had agreed to prioritise 1,000 doses for health care workers at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (in Kimberley) in the Frances Baard District; 2,000 doses for health care workers at Kathu LenMed and Kuruman hospitals in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District; and a further 1,000 doses for health care workers at Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington in the ZF Mgcawu District.”

Majaha added that the department intended to embark on a campaign to educate communities in the Province on the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines, while also dealing with any misinformation and misconceptions.

“The department will roll out a major awareness campaign throughout the Province to reduce vaccine hesitancy and resistance that may arise from misunderstandings around vaccine safety and efficacy. This campaign also seeks to dispel rumours, myths, conspiracies and

misconceptions created through mistrust. The dates and venues for this campaign drive will be communicated soon.”

Majaha went on to say that the Province had recorded an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections over the Easter weekend.

“We have noted a sharp increase in new Covid-19 infections after the Easter weekend. We did caution members of the public that there is a potential for increased risk of exposure due to non-adherence to Covid-19 regulations.

“The total hospital admissions due to Covid-19 has slightly increased by 14%.”

“The total provincial deaths reached 840 since the start of the pandemic. Three-hundred and 20 of the fatalities were recorded since January 1, 2021. That includes 26 health care workers.

“The MEC is calling on all members of the community to heed the clarion call on the importance of wearing masks, sanitising hands and maintaining physical distancing at all times to lower the rate of Covid-19 transmission. This approach will assist in delaying the third wave and reducing the number of infected people,” Majaha concluded.

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