Cape Town - The Melomed Hospital in Gatesville has become the first private hospital to offer private sector health-care workers Covid-19 vaccinations.
The Rylands Civic Centre opposite the hospital was officially opened on Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo and Deputy Mayor Ian Nielson, preceded by prayers from faith leaders.
The City approved the use of the Civic Centre over the next 10 weeks, at no charge to Melomed.
Melomed Hospital Holdings’ executive director, Dr Ismail Bhorat, said: “After Melomed Gatesville was officially confirmed as a first and only private (sector) vaccination centre in the Cape metropole a week ago, we immediately proceeded to get this centre ready, and I am proud to say, in one week we managed to convert this into an efficient and well-run vaccination centre that meets all the requirements of the Department of Health.”
The province received its second batch of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) doses on Sunday and was allocated 13 068 vaccines, which will be delivered in two separate batches. Of the vaccines allotted, 2 560 will be distributed to rural areas.
Provincial Health Department chief of operations Dr Saadiq Kariem said: “For tranche two, for the private sector, we have allocated 4 740 vaccines and in the metropole we’ve allocated 3 840, and that’s what you see happening now, is the private sector metropole allocation of 3 840.
“The remainder for the private sector we’ve allocated to Paarl, George and Worcester, and we will kickstart there in the next day or two.”
Mbombo lauded the facility for being the first in the country.
“We said we are ready to respond to Covid-19 last year, and today we’re saying we’re leaving no one behind.”
The president of the SA Medical Research Council and the co-lead researcher of the J&J Sisonke implementation study, Professor Glenda Gray, said: “If there was any epidemic that HCW (healthcare workers) had to face head-on and be brave it was Covid-19, so I want to acknowledge the brave soldiers of the healthcare sector, because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to manage patients in wards.”
She said protocols would be amended to include pregnant healthcare workers for enrolment in the study.
The Western Cape has about seven research sites, with one site serving more than one vaccination centre, said co-principal investigator, Professor Linda-Gail Bekker.
“We set ourselves a target of 80 000 countrywide within two weeks, and we’ve essentially achieved that,” she said.
Vaccinations in George, Worcester and Paarl would start today, she said.
Vaccinated nurse Desiree Kannemeyer from Milnerton said the main reason she chose to get vaccinated was because she lost her son-in-law to Covid-19 in December.
“He was fine. There was nothing wrong with him. Just within two days, he was gone.”