Home South African SA has to use all 80,000 J&J vaccines before receiving more

SA has to use all 80,000 J&J vaccines before receiving more

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The country has been promised a further 300,000 J&J doses in the next four to six weeks

File image: Justin Tallis/AFP

SOUTH Africa has to administer all 80,000 Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 doses before it can receive more vaccines, says Professor Linda-Gail Bekker.

The country has been promised a further 300,000 J&J doses in the next four to six weeks.

Bekker, who is the national co-ordinator of the vaccine roll-out for health care workers, made these revelations during a briefing on Tuesday afternoon to provincial health departments on how the vaccine programme will be carried out.

“If we move through those doses, we have been promised a further 200,000 doses. They will be coming in tranches of 80,000 to these 17 sites for the first two weeks and we will then move to the next phase where we will be targeting more people,” she said.

Speaking during the first day of debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said government was in talks with manufacturers and suppliers of Covid-19 vaccines through different channels and was engaging with the makers of multiple vaccines.

The J&J vaccine roll-out will be carried through a programme called Sisonke, an early access vaccine roll-out programme for health care workers, which has been introduced while we wait for licensure to come along, says Bekker.

“So as not to disrupt, we knew that South Africa has a vaccine programme already, so we had to insert Sisonke into that vaccine roll-out programme so it’s almost seamless when we move into the various phases.

“We have a safe and efficacious vaccine that is not being licensed. We are going to introduce it through this other mechanism called the Sisonke programme while we wait for licensure to come along,” she said.

Under this programme, health care workers who will be receiving the J&J jab, will be expected to give consent before receiving the jab. Participants will also be passively monitored to look at the outcomes.

“In a small group of health care workers who volunteered for this, this is entirely voluntary. We will ask them to come back two times more, at three months and at six months, to test their blood to see the antibody response we saw in the clinical trial.

“We are doing what we will be doing in the mass roll out. We want to monitor hospitalisation to make sure the vaccine has the kind of impact in the population level that we would accept.

“We’ll gather any information about the vaccine,” said Bekker.

According to Bekker the Sisonke programme is similar to the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) that was launched in the country last month.

“Before health care workers can receive the jab, they will to register and an SMS will be sent, asking them if they would like to opt into Sisonke and if they say ’yes’ they will be taken through a simple consent process that’s electronic and if they agree to that a vaccination voucher will be issued. They have to bring that voucher to the vaccination site,” she said.