Health officials on hand to monitor for vaccine side-effects

Slow start to vaccinations at Gauteng clinic as staff battle to capture details

17 May 2021 - 12:36 By nomahlubi sonjica
Tommy Harris waits to get his jab as nurses and staff at Discoverers Community Health Centre struggle to capture his details on the system.
Tommy Harris waits to get his jab as nurses and staff at Discoverers Community Health Centre struggle to capture his details on the system.
Image: Nomahlubi Sonjica/TimesLIVE

After two hours of waiting to get his jab, 66-year-old Tommy Harris said he was relieved he would be able to go out to meet clients for business.

Harris was the first person to be vaccinated at Discoverers Community Health Centre in Roodepoort on Monday.

He and his wife Patricia arrived at the centre at around 10am. They had to wait for more than two hours to be vaccinated because nurses and administration staff were struggling to capture their details on the system. They had not received SMS notifications confirming their registration.

“When we came to register, we figured the people who were administering the process were not clued up. We were supposed to get an SMS but we didn’t. Luckily, I didn’t have anywhere to go this morning."

Harris said he decided to take the vaccine because he had a comorbidity and wanted to be able to run his business again.

“I believe in being secure in terms of my health. I hear what people say but that doesn’t mean anything to me because I understand what is happening. With my age I get blocked from doing business, but now I will be able to go out there and get work,” he said after being vaccinated.

Harris encouraged those who have not been vaccinated to get the jab.

“They must take it. There is nothing sinister about it.”

Sitting next to Harris in the observation room after being inoculated, his wife Patricia, 66, was all smiles.

“I’m feeling great. The queue was not flowing at the start but we understand it was the first day. I have not had an injection in many years, I was a bit scared but I feel good I've done it.”

She said she felt protected “somehow”.

“My experience was a good one. The staff were very patient.”

Virginia Kwana Ya Modimo, 60, said she was also happy to have taken the vaccine.

“I feel good because I wanted to get the vaccine so I do not get sick with Covid-19.”

Five of the six nurses administering vaccines at the centre had to use long hand to capture patients’ details as their electronic tablets were not working.

“I’m worried. There is only one person with a working tablet,” one of the officials was heard saying.

“We will have to upload on the system later,” said Babita Deokaran, chief director of finance at the Gauteng health department.

Earlier, TimesLIVE reported the vaccination rollout was off to a slow start at the centre.

By midmorning, there were seven elderly people waiting in a queue to be inoculated, but nurses at vaccination stations were still struggling to register those who had not received an SMS confirming their registration.

Before they could go to the vaccination stations, residents had to first go to the registration desk to be verified for vaccination. The first three people who arrived at the centre had not received confirmation messages, despite them claiming they had successfully registered online.

Mogeru Morewane, chief director for the Johannesburg health district, said it was understandable things would move at a slow pace on the first day of vaccinations

“It is the first day and it is a little cold this morning. Maybe they are still coming,” said Morewane before anyone had arrived.

“We are waiting for those who have been scheduled to be vaccinated. We want the elderly who have registered. We will register those who have not registered.”

Deokaran said they would not turn away people who had not registered for inoculation. “If we get patients who are 60 years or older and are on chronic medication, we will register and vaccinate them,” she said.

When TimesLIVE arrived at the centre, staff who were due to register patients were given electronic tablets to capture their details.

The vaccination room has six stations, each manned by one nurse.

Deokaran said after being vaccinated, the patient would be taken to the observation area  next to the vaccination room.

“One nurse can vaccinate up to 40 patients in a day. Once a patient has been vaccinated, they will be observed for 15 minutes. Those who experience allergies or difficulties are taken to the emergency room where they will be attended to by a doctor.”

An ambulance would be stationed outside for any case of emergency, she said.

The Gauteng health department is hoping to vaccinate more than 1.3 million people over the age of 60 during the second phase of the national Covid-19 vaccination plan.