The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) has urged healthcare workers to take the Covid-19 vaccine when it arrives in the country.
“The announced procurement of over one million Covid-19 vaccines (prioritised mainly for healthcare workers) by the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize is a welcome development and augurs well for the positive long-term management of the disease,” the HPCSA said on Tuesday.
“The HPCSA welcomes this programme and is hopeful that it will be implemented effectively and efficiently.
“The HPCSA further urges healthcare workers to make themselves available for vaccination as this will protect them against contracting the disease, which can only be of benefit to South Africans dependent on care from them.”
This comes as a rapid rise in cases is anticipated in the healthcare system during the new surge.
At the same time, there is some scepticism over the safety of vaccines, with some people going as far as claiming that vaccines may be part of a sinister plot to control the world, and that kitchen cupboard remedies may be safer.
During his address to the nation on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the first batch of around 1.2 million vaccines will be intended for health workers.
In phase 2, when more vaccines arrive, essential workers such as teachers, police, municipal workers and other frontline personnel will be prioritised.
People in institutions such as homes for the aged, shelters and prisons as well as people older than 60 and adults with comorbidities will also be prioritised.
Ramaphosa said the government plans to reach around 16 million people in this phase.
In phase 3, with increased supplies, the remaining adult population of approximately 22.5 million is expected to be vaccinated as part of a goal to reach around 40 million South Africans.
Vaccinations will be distributed throughout hospitals, clinics, outreach services, mobile clinics and private settings such as doctors’ surgeries, pharmacies and workplaces.
The HPCSA said the current surge is concerning. It said the rapid rise in cases will be an extreme burden to the healthcare system and those working in it, who are at risk of contracting the disease or exposing their families to it,
The council reiterated growing concerns that healthcare workers are overburdened during the huge resurgence.
“This will have a rippling effect on the efficiency and functioning of the healthcare system,” HPCSA said.
The HPCSA also welcomed any evidence-based interventions by the government to save lives and livelihoods.