South Africa | Covid-19: Over 17 000 healthcare workers vaccinated in Gauteng

As the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Tshwane became the latest site in Gauteng to administer the Covid-19 jab, the province is looking to vaccinate 8 520 more healthcare workers this week.

South Africa has begun vaccinating healthcare workers against the novel coronavirus as part of the Johnson & Johnson Phase 3b Implementation Study.

As of 1 March, Gauteng had already vaccinated 17 994 across the different sites, including Steve Biko Academic Hospital and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

This week, four more sites were opened - Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Netcare Milpark Private Hospital and the Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital.

READ | Covid-19 vaccination centre for private healthcare workers opens in Cape Town

The Gauteng Department of Health is expecting to vaccinate 8 520 by the end of this week - and is looking to jab 9 520 by the end of next week. This includes healthcare workers in both public and private hospitals.

These vaccinations form part of what is referred to as the phase one rollout programme.

In Gauteng alone, there are 215 000 healthcare workers.

Getting vaccinated

Deputy Minister of Health Joe Phaahla, along with Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethivisited the Dr George Mukhari Hospital on Wednesday to inspect the vaccination clinic.

Following an inspection, the deputy minister went through the process of being screened, signed up and being vaccinated.

Thereafter, he was seated in a waiting room, to make sure there were no adverse side-effects.

"I'm feeling very healthy. I must admit that I was very anxious," Phaahla said.

He added that the process was pleasant, and the vaccination staff had been thorough.

Joe Phaahla

Deputy Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla undergoing screening shortly before recieving the Covid-19 jab at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Tshwane.

News24 News24/Alex Mitchley

While the deputy minister said he had not felt any side-effects after receiving the jab, he said he did not want to mislead the public. He added there was the possibility of people reacting differently to the vaccination, as is the case with all vaccines and other medicines.

ALSO READ | Covid-19: Current vaccination is an expanded trial study, says Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

"I'm not saying that, if there is anybody who has some reaction, mild, moderate or even severe, it's something which we will say is unexpected. These things do happen, but we know that the vaccine is safe, it has been tested."

Dr Leah Nkomo, who also received the jab on Wednesday, said she was relieved to finally be vaccinated.

She added that it would help a great deal in curbing the fears that many healthcare workers have.

"As a doctor, it means less fear," Nkomo said.

She added that the vaccine will ease the burden of being a frontline worker, as there is now a lower risk of dying of Covid-19.

The CEO of Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Dr Richard Lebethe, said the demand for the jab is far greater than what they have available, but he stressed that, as and when vaccines become available, they will try to vaccinate as quickly as possible.

He added that healthcare workers in Covid-19 wards, emergency, high care and ICU wards, as well as those working in mortuaries, would be prioritised.

News24 recently reported the government had maintained that the current vaccinations are part of an expanded trial study, and not the start of the full rollout of vaccinations in order to achieve herd immunity in South Africa.

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