Acting provincial commissioner was the first to get the jab and he urged others to follow his example.
WITH more than 200 police officers having lost their lives to Covd-19, the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, in partnership with the provincial Department of Health, kicked off the vaccination programme for police officers and support personnel on Thursday.
The acting provincial commissioner, Major-General Johannes Kers, was the first to get the jab and urged all others in his portfolio to follow his example.
“We are hoping to vaccinate 500 members and support staff with this programme today (Thursday),” said Kers. “The vaccine programme is vital as we have been experiencing an increase in infections in the country and that has affected our service delivery to communities negatively.
“In the Province, we have more than 30 000 members and support personnel. We unfortunately had more than 200 members and personnel who have succumbed to this virus. We have to ensure that we protect our staff as they are in the front-line of the fight against this disease.
“Our officers have to ensure that they enforce the law and the Covid-19 regulations. They are at times dispatched to areas and venues where chances of infection are high. The vaccine will ensure that they are protected.”
The MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Nomandla Bloem, said they were “relieved and glad” that the process has started.
“With police officers on the front line, we must commend the start of the vaccination programme and promote the further roll-out of vaccinations for our officers. Our officers are the ones on the move. They not only have to move towards crime, but also towards spaces to ensure compliance to Covid-19 regulations to curtail its spread. This places them at risk . We are relieved and glad that the process has started so we can ensure that our members and personnel have a barrier of protection,” said Bloem.
Meanwhile, the MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, said that although many people in the Northern Cape have already received their jab, there is still much education needed around the importance of the vaccine.
“We have over the past months witnessed the challenges some communities in the Northern Cape experienced due to the vastness of the Province,” added Lekwene. “Some residents, although eager to get the vaccine, experienced challenges accessing a vaccination site. That is the reason why we have decided to roll out more vaccination sites and even made vaccination mobiles available to some areas. We also arranged for transportation for those who are elderly in order for them not to walk to the vaccination sites.
“Despite all this, there are, however, still residents who are fearful of getting vaccinated.”
Lekwene assured residents that the vaccines have been scientifically tested and are safe to be administered.
“The vaccine has been proven to be your best protection against this virus. The vaccine decreases one’s chances of getting infected with the virus and increases your defence against the virus.
“We had a good start with the vaccination of health-care workers. Our target is to vaccinate 14 000 health-care workers and we have already vaccinated 9 650 thus far. That programme is still ongoing and we are positive that we will reach our goal.”
The MEC pointed out that the vaccine not only protects those who receive it against infection, but also other community members.
“Taking the vaccine will not only protect yourself, but also others around you. Many of our residents are staying in households where there are different age groups in one house. Our elderly are vulnerable and are at risk of getting infected. Our front-line workers need to ensure they protect themselves and those around them.”