- The Western Cape government is readying itself for the first Covid-19 vaccinations.
- The online registration for vaccines for healthcare workers is also expected to go live soon.
- In the meantime, the finer details of storing and vaccinating are being ironed out.
With the first batch of vaccines hoped to prevent further transmission of Covid-19 due soon, the Western Cape is aiming to start vaccinations by the middle of February.
Head of the provincial Department of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, said the vaccines had to be checked first by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), and if all went well, the department was prepared to start vaccinations on 8 February, or sooner if necessary.
The vaccines are being produced by the Serum Institute of India, under licence from AstraZeneca.
In a digital briefing, provincial Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said she had started discussions with healthcare workers on what a vaccine was, and what the vaccination process would be.
"The daunting task is not only about getting that vaccine, but the whole process that needs to be followed," she said.
The province's strategy includes the pre-registration of employees already registered on the public healthcare system, as well as the registration of people in private healthcare, and other divisions in the healthcare system, such as administrators.
After that, the appointment system and venues for the vaccination would be arranged.
They would also have to fill in a vaccination card, and a consent card.
Mbombo said that, in the Western Cape, about 500 vaccinators would be trained, and that one vaccinator could do a minimum of 40 vaccinations a day.
Around 105 000 healthcare workers in the Western Cape are in line for the first batch in the province, depending on the split between provinces that the national Department of Health decides on.
Mbombo said it was hoped that they would complete the vaccinations between the time of the current drop in infections and the third wave, which was expected in March.
Part of the team's job will be to give health workers, credible scientific information to help them make an informed choice, and to assuage the concerns of the 19% polled who have said they will not take it, and the 54% who said they need more information to make up their mind.
Cloete said the whole premise of the vaccination rollout process was that it was voluntary.
There would be no consequences for healthcare workers who do not want the vaccine, but he said there were "mature" discussions underway regarding the wider consequences to the community if not enough people are vaccinated.
"If you decide not to take it, there's no consequence," said Cloete, who is on the national vaccine coordinating committee with all provincial heads of departments.
In the meantime, the arrangements also included the finer details of how many of the 10ml vials to open a day, based on how many people would be vaccinated, and to separate the doses in each vial carefully without wasting any of it.