At least 36% of Gauteng healthcare workers are not vaccinated against the deadly Covid-19 virus, despite being at the front lines of the pandemic.
That’s according to the DA’s spokesperson for health in the province, Jack Bloom.
“Despite high Covid-19 infections, 31,521 (36%) out of 86,630 health workers employed by the Gauteng Health Department are not fully vaccinated,” said Bloom in a statement.
This bombshell information was revealed in a presentation by the provincial health department during a meeting of the Gauteng legislature’s health committee.
The department says 55,109 (64%) health workers are fully vaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, 16,236 health workers have been infected with Covid-19, of whom 1,908 had to be admitted to hospital and 111 died.
Ambulance staff have been badly affected, with 615 (24%) testing positive to date out of a total of 2,544 Emergency Management Service (EMS) staff, with three deaths.
The department blames the high number of declining staff vaccination rates on ‘false propaganda on social media.
“Approximately 15-20% of EMS staff do not want to get inoculated against the virus because they do not trust the vaccine,” said Bloom.
While the constitutional rights of people to refuse the vaccine need to be respected, there are compelling occupational safety reasons for healthcare staff to be vaccinated as they have a higher risk of infection and could infect co-workers or patients.
The Western Cape health department is doing better in this regard with more than 76% of its employees vaccinated.
“As we head towards a likely fourth wave of infection, more needs to be done to dispel vaccine misinformation in Gauteng, both amongst health workers and the general public,” stressed Bloom.
“This will save lives and ease the strain on our hospitals,” he added.
868 new cases reported
On Tuesday night, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 868 new Covid-19 cases, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,948,760.
At the same time, the government also announced that it would be adding the rapid antigen test results to the national database.
The increase in cumulative cases in last night’s report is attributed to the retrospective addition of 18,586 antigen tests, which include 868 positive cases recorded in the past 24 hours.
“The incorporation of antigen tests follows ongoing improvements to report as accurately as possible from all provinces and all testing facilities throughout South Africa,” said the NICD.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney