Yesterday was practice — today the vaccine rollout hits second gear
Yesterday was just for practice, today marks the start of the real Covid vaccine dash at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane.
On Wednesday the hospital did a test run of 20 shots of the 80,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines which arrived in the country on Tuesday evening.
At 3pm the media witnessed the day's last five recipients starting with the hospital CEO, Dr Mathabo Mathebula, who got her jab at 3.30pm.
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The hospital must now vaccinate about 1,300 health workers by the end of next week.
Steve Biko was one of two hospitals, including Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, to receive the first tranche of the vaccines in Gauteng, which was proudly witnessed by premier David Makhura in his usual flamboyant attire.
Earlier Makhura had witnessed Baragwanath Hospital dole out 28 vaccines with the first shot in the province being administered to Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi — wearing an equally bright shirt to celebrate a new day in the fight against the coronavirus.
When the team arrived at room 91304 — where the vaccines were administered, Dr Mathabo Mathebula was ready to face the needle.
And though she said it didn't hurt and she never once flinched — TimesLIVE noted she didn't breathe through the shot either. But once the needle was withdrawn to the applause from dignitaries and the media scrum it put a smile back on her face.
It's not a quick process as all those receiving the vaccine must fill out a lengthy consent form and then after the jab, they need to be monitored for 15 minutes.
Research doctor Matsontso Mathebula said the 15 minutes were to ensure there were no reactions to the vaccine.
“But we are not concerned as none of the 7,000 tested on the vaccine had a reaction. But we still take the precaution.
“Today we were testing the timing and delivery — tomorrow we go, because we have to vaccinate 1,300 hospital workers by the end of next week.”
Each dose arrives from the hospital lab in a white cold box already in the injector. Once it is placed in the syringe it has to be used in 24 hours to be effective, so each is prepared specifically for the recipient.
In January, the Steve Biko Hospital experienced a sharp increase in Covid patients.
This led to the facility putting up two additional Covid tents at the emergency entrance rooftop. The roof was designed to handle disasters of patients in the emergency category priority 3.
On Wednesday, the tents were still at the emergency entrance but were only partially occupied as the numbers of Covid infections in the province had fallen.
That evening the number of new infections in the country was 2,320.