News24 Wire
Wire Service
2 minute read
12 May 2021
5:16 pm

Who’s next? Vaccination of health workers set to end in next two weeks

News24 Wire

Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla added that Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, which would target citizens 60 years old and above, would start next week.

Newly-appointed Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: GCIS

While the threat of a third wave of Covid-19 infections threaten South Africa, a million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to arrive next week, which will be allocated to health workers.

Speaking at the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa’s (Denosa) commemoration of International Nurses’ Day on Wednesday, deputy health minister Joe Phaahla said the vaccination of health workers would be completed in the next two weeks.

“We are well aware that not all nurses managed to visit vaccination sites to receive the Covid-19 jab during the Sisonke programme due to their hectic work schedules characterised by long queues and overcrowded health facilities in some areas,” Phaahla said.

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“They couldn’t abandon the young, the old and the sick clients queuing to get medical attention. They always prioritise the lives of the patients before their own.

“Thus, we encourage nurses to continue taking opportunity of the Johnson & Johnson Sisonke Covid-19 vaccine trial rollout aimed at all 1.2 million healthcare workers, which has so far seen around 400 000 health workers vaccinated.”

He said a million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were ready.

Phaahla also mentioned that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be available soon to complete the vaccinations of healthcare workers.

The deputy minister added that Phase 2 of the vaccination programme, which would target citizens 60-years-old and above, would get under way next week.

Ready

Phaahla also touched on the possibility of a third wave of infections hitting South Africa, emphasising that the country needed to be ready.

He said that numbers of confirmed infections had been rising in some provinces, including Gauteng, Northern Cape, and Free State.

“We note with great concern that the third wave is imminent, and we will once again be reliant on nurses to rise and respond positively to their calling of being of service to humanity.

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“As government, we will continue to support nurses by providing necessary tools of trade, including the personal protective equipment and other necessary enablers to perform their duties safely.”

Phaahla said he was crossing his fingers that the vaccines would prevent further strain on the health system, and that it would prevent further catastrophe, akin to the unfolding situation in India.

The deputy minister was also hopeful that vaccinations for people older than 40 and other categories of frontline workers would get under way soon.

Alex Mitchley