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5 things you need to know about SA’s phase 2 vaccine roll-out

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Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out commences today, with priority given to South Africans who are over 60 years old.

File picture: Reuters

PHASE 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out starts today, with priority given to South Africans who are over 60 years old.

Thousands of health workers who are yet to receive their jabs will also be accommodated. At the launch of the mass vaccination roll-out, on Sunday night, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize outlined how the campaign will unfold.

Mkhize said: “We will continue to vaccinate health care workers and complete the targeted 1.2 million health care workers in the coming week.

“We will also begin to vaccinate citizens 60 years and older who are most vulnerable to becoming ill or dying of Covid-19. Five million citizens are targeted to be completed by the end of June, provided that the supply of vaccines flow as anticipated.”

Here are five things you need to know about SA’s phase 2 vaccine roll-out:

Expect a slow start

Less than 4,300 elderly people are expected to receive their first shots today. That is 0.35% of the registered group, and 0.09% of the target audience. The majority of those who will receive the jabs are health care workers.

Mkhize said this was because vaccine administrators were not familiar with the vaccines, but adding that the country would see a steady incline in the number of vaccines administered daily.

“These vaccines we have not used them before, and vaccinators may therefore need time to acquaint themselves with certain things, like drawing the vaccines out of the vials,” he said.

There are 87 vaccination sites available nationally, with 83 in the public sector and four were in the private sector. The Health Department is hoping to up this number to 200 by the end of the week.

No walk-ins will be allowed at vaccination sites today

Health care workers and the elderly who have registered to be vaccinated will get invited to a vaccination site via an SMMes.

“We recommend that as many people as possible register beforehand. For Monday, we will not be able to accommodate walk-ins, however we will, going forward, be able to do so. The programme has been designed to avoid long queues. This is why it is important that as many people as possible register beforehand, and follow the instructions which they receive by SMS,” Mkhize said.

Only Pfizer vaccines are in use

For now only Pfizer vaccines are in use, with safety release still pending on the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“At this stage there is no choice on which vaccine you will receive. When you get vaccinated you will be informed which vaccine you are getting, and if a second dose is needed,” Mkhize said.

More deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine are expected in the country, raising the number to 975,780 doses.

By the end of June, 4.5 million Pfizer vaccines would have been delivered to South Africa and another two million from Johnson & Johnson.

Most older people will receive their vaccines at care facilities.

About 50,000 elderly people are earmarked for such home visits, details on such plans are still to come from most provinces.

“The department aims to vaccinate 7,707 residents of 102 old age homes by the end of the week and 50,000 old age home residents by the end of May. Walk-ins will not be accommodated on May 17, but will be going forward,” said Mkhize.

What happens if you miss your vaccine appointment?

Mkhize warned that if you missed your vaccine appointment you would be rescheduled on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS). But if you miss three appointments you will have to go to a vaccination site or phone the Covid hotline to get another appointment.