The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has called upon government to acquire more Covid-19 vaccine doses after South Africa’s inoculation rollout kicked off on Wednesday.
This is after the arrival of the first consignment of 80,000 shots of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine on Tuesday evening at OR Tambo International Airport.
The vaccine doses have been distributed around the country’s provinces to vaccinate healthcare workers.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize were part of the group to be vaccinated in Cape Town on Wednesday alongside the healthcare workers.
Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said the union calls on government to get more vaccine in effort to help ease the burden and stress off healthcare workers.
Xaba noted that the vaccination programme would allay fears among healthcare workers.
“We hope that moving forward in terms of procurement, government will be more aggressive so that we can get more vaccines so that we can vaccinate as more people as possible.
“Our members are looking forward to the vaccination and we are still trying to convince more so that they can register on the online portal,” he told Power 987.
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According to the Department of Health, approximately 40,000 health workers have contracted Covid-19, while 6,473 have been hospitalised and 663 have died from the virus to date.
The Department hailed day one of the first phase of vaccine rollout to health workers as a “huge success”.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) have also expressed its relief over the vaccine rollout getting underway.
Denosa spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo said protecting healthcare workers was an urgent priority as they more likely to contract the virus than the general population.
“We are very excited and we are tired of experiencing the deaths of healthcare workers in a country that is got a serious shortage of staff,” he said.
Delihlazo added that Finance Ministry has continuously reduced the “budget for provincial departments of health”.
“Many healthcare workers as you may have seen, have expressed relief that finally… this opportunity has arrived,” he said.