‘Can I close my eyes?’ Ramaphosa has Covid-19 jab with Khayelitsha hospital staff

17 February 2021 - 13:11 By Sipokazi Fokazi
A nurse at Khayelitsha District Hospital injects President Cyril Ramaphosa with the Covid-19 vaccine on February 17 2021.
A nurse at Khayelitsha District Hospital injects President Cyril Ramaphosa with the Covid-19 vaccine on February 17 2021.
Image: Esa Alexander

Labour ward sister Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi became the first health worker in SA to be vaccinated against Covid-19 on Wednesday.

Sister Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi is vaccinated against Covid-19 at Khayelitsha District Hospital on February 17 2021.
Sister Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi is vaccinated against Covid-19 at Khayelitsha District Hospital on February 17 2021.
Image: Esa Alexander

She was injected with the Johnson & Johnson vaccination at Khayelitsha District Hospital in the Western Cape, watched by health minister Zweli Mkhize and Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

Mkhize and President Cyril Ramaphosa were then vaccinated alongside 16 health workers, including emergency medicine physician Dr Sa’ad Lahri, housekeeping staffer Mavuyo Mpambani and administration clerk Cwengisa Dadirai.

As a nurse prepared to vaccinate Ramaphosa in his upper left arm, he jokingly asked: “Can I close my eyes?” His vaccination was accompanied by the sounds of scores of camera shutters and followed by a round of applause. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa was vaccinated on February 17 2021 at Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town. Ramaphosa was one of the first citizens to receive the vaccine, which is being rolled out to health-care workers across the country.

“At first I was a bit terrified of this long needle that was going to be embedded into my arm, but it happened so quickly, so easily, it was just a prick on my flesh and I really did not feel much pain,” Ramaphosa said afterwards, describing the first vaccinations as a “real milestone” for SA. 

“I was rather pleased that five people were vaccinated before me, they were health workers,” he said.

“It was a joy to watch them, to see whether anything had happened to them,” he said. “It means being vaccinated is a fairly straightforward process.”

Mbombo said she would not be receiving the vaccination on Wednesday. The Western Cape had received 13,000 of the 80,000 doses that arrived at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Tuesday night, she said.

This was sufficient to vaccinate only about 10% of the health workers in the Western Cape, and they had been prioritised according to their roles and their comorbidities.

“So how can I jump the queue?” Mbombo asked journalists outside the hospital.

Many of the vaccines sent to the Western Cape will be administered at the province's largest hospitals, Groote Schuur and Tygerberg.

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