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Paramedic strike & hitting the million mark: 5 things you need to know about the vaccine rollout this week

04 June 2021 - 11:05 By unathi nkanjeni
More than a million people have been vaccinated in SA. Stock photo.
More than a million people have been vaccinated in SA. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ssilver

More than a million people have been vaccinated in SA under the Sisonke protocol and second phase of the government’s mass vaccination campaign.

To date, a total of 1.12 million have received at least their first doses of the vaccine.

Here is a wrap on this week's vaccine rollout:

Paramedics march for vaccine

On Tuesday, scores of paramedics from the KwaZulu-Natal Private Ambulances Association (KZNPAA) marched to the provincial health department to hand over a memorandum of demand to MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu. 

This came after the association expressed frustration last week with the department for not providing vaccines for all paramedics.

KZNPAA said the protest was about not having been vaccinated as patient-facing front-line workers, while most government employees have been vaccinated.

“This government did not release vaccines to the private sector on time so that they could operate as they wish, disregarding the private sector, especially small businesses,” said the association.

SA breaches the million mark

On Tuesday, health minister Zweli Mkhze announced that SA had breached the million mark, thanking all those involved in the vaccination campaign. 

The second phase is set to take place until October 17. 

“I wish to thank all those involved in the vaccination campaign, from the director-general of health to each and every vaccinator continuing to battle it out for the nation in the front-line.

“We will continue to ramp up daily vaccinations, working with the private sector, towards attaining the targets we have committed to as government,” said Mkhize.

No vaccine rollout schedule for teachers 

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga supported calls for teachers to be vaccinated but admitted that there was no rollout schedule to do so. 

Speaking after receiving her jab on Tuesday, the minister said the vaccination of teachers and other front-line workers would depend on the availability of vaccines. 

“I've raised the issue with the minister of health and the cabinet is very supportive. There are plans to make sure that not only teachers but all front-line workers — your teachers, police and home affairs people — are being prioritised,” she said.

Clicks to prioritise those who live in remote areas

Pharmaceutical retailer Clicks announced on Thursday that its vaccination programme would prioritise areas which don’t have easy access to other vaccination sites, as it plans to add 240 vaccination sites in the next two to three weeks.

In a statement, the group said a further 40 to 50 sites would be added each week after that, depending on demand and vaccine availability. It said it aims to have more than 600 vaccination sites, with the capacity to vaccinate 30,100 people per day.

“The fundamentals are now all in place and the target of administering 50 vaccinations a day, per site, is manageable. Our objective is to have 602 registered vaccination sites,” said Vikash Singh, managing executive at Clicks.

“Stores situated in areas which don’t have easy access to other vaccination sites will be prioritised. Once all 602 sites are operational, Clicks will have the capacity to vaccinate 30,100 people per day, six days a week.”

Johnson & Johnson delay

The Western Cape health department expressed concerns about the delayed arrival of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines, saying it will cause a major “supply constraint in the coming weeks”.

“Up until last week, 124,000 doses were received, but there is a supply constraint for the coming weeks because of delays in receiving J&J doses,” said department head Dr Keith Cloete. 

He said the province planned to scale up its vaccination numbers next week, but could not do this without the J&J vaccines.

“We cannot do the intended 120,000 next week and that big supply constraint is a direct result of the non-delivery and non-release of the J&J doses,” said Cloete.