Gauteng needs millions of vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity

25 January 2021 - 15:09 By alex patrick
A nurse in full personal protective equipment enters the high care ward at the Nasrec field hospital. Medical teams caring for the sickest Covid-19 patients who require ventilation will be the first in the country to receive a vaccine dose.
A nurse in full personal protective equipment enters the high care ward at the Nasrec field hospital. Medical teams caring for the sickest Covid-19 patients who require ventilation will be the first in the country to receive a vaccine dose.
Image: Alex Patrick/TimesLIVE

Medical teams caring for the sickest Covid-19 patients who require ventilation will be the first to receive a vaccine dose come February 1.

Dumisani Malele of the Medical Supplies Depot spoke about the vaccine rollout during the Nasrec centre oversight visit by Gauteng health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi on Monday morning.

Malele said the vaccine would be handed out in the country according to a prioritised categorisation.

“We have procured one million vaccines from India which are expected to reach SA by the end of the week and we expect to start vaccinations by February 1,” he said.

The vaccines will be handed out according to the need in each province.

The first phase is for health-care practitioners and is divided into categories from most important:

  1. health-care workers who work with aerosol-generating procedures (those intubating patients);
  2. those in direct contact with Covid-19 patients;
  3. those in contact with patients suspected of or known to have Covid-19; and
  4. health professionals not in contact with Covid-19 patients.

The second phase has five categories:

  1. front-line workers including teachers, military and police;
  2. people in groups such as prisons, shelters and so on;
  3. people over 60 years;
  4. people over 18 years with comorbidities; and
  5. those over the age of 18.

“We have the infrastructure for one vaccinator to deliver vaccines for 40 people a day,” said Malele.

“The vaccines are divided by province and two vaccinations are to be administered to one person, with a period of 28 days to three months between the vaccines. Say Gauteng gets 500,000 vaccines, that means 250,000 will be vaccinated in the first tranche.”

Malele said an electronic data system will be used to manage and track those vaccinated and will alert those who have had the vaccine when the next dose is needed and an appointment will be made.

The numbers of vaccines needed for the first category of health-care workers was quantifiable, he said. To get the numbers for phase 2, they would need to use data from institutions such as medical aids, teacher unions and police. These numbers have not yet been established for Gauteng.

He said the distribution and procurement processes were handled by the national department of health.

A far cry from what is needed

According to population data from last year, there are about 15.2 million people in Gauteng — and with Malele saying that 68% needed the vaccine to achieve herd immunity, this means that about 10.3 million people need the vaccine, or about 20.6 million doses.

The MEC’s message on Monday was for people to go to hospital if they are sick after contracting the coronavirus.

“I appeal to the people in Gauteng: don’t stay at home. Come to hospital immediately because if you are late, we have a challenge. We have capacity and we have the experts,” she said.

TimesLIVE

LISTEN | Dr Anban Pillay answers our vaccine questions

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