The first round of Covid-19 vaccination for teachers in Makhanda has been completed; however slowness in the registration system means support staff, and teachers at independent schools have yet to receive their shots. Meanwhile, vaccination of health care workers and people 60 and over is continuing at the Settlers Hospital and Clicks vaccination sites.
Head of the Department of Health’s Makana Subdistrict, Mohamed Docrat, said the vaccination programme this week moved to the rural areas of Alicedale (Thursday) and Riebeeck East (Friday 2 July). The team would return to the Extension 9 Hall on Monday, resuming their area based outreach, he said.
The scheduled opening of a second Covid-19 vaccination site, at Extension 9 Hall, was halted last month because blocked roads during a citywide shutdown prevented staff from reaching the venue. Around 100 mostly elderly people had to be turned away.
The resumed Extension 9 vaccine outreach would be followed by programmes at other community venues in Makhanda, Docrat said.
The age-based vaccination programme was continuing, Docrat confirmed. GMDirect can confirm that a number of people in the 60-plus group this week returned either to Clicks (medical aid members) or Settlers Hospital for their second dose of the Pfizer vaccination.
Teachers in Makhanda, Port Alfred and Bushmans River on the state’s Persal system who had come forward to be vaccinated had received their shots, Docrat said.
Administrative and support staff not on that system had not yet been vaccinated.
By Friday 2 July, the situation at public schools in Makhanda varied.
“Any of our teaching staff on Persal who have not yet been vaccinated, that is because of their choice not to,” said a senior management team (SMT) member at one Makhanda public school in Joza. “Some among my staff are still sceptical about the vaccine for some reason. Our teaching staff who opted in have been vaccinated, but non-teaching staff or support staff and those not on Persal have not been done yet,” the SMT member said.
An SMT member at another Joza school confirmed that all the teachers there had been vaccinated.
All except the security staff had been vaccinated at a third Makhanda school. And at a fourth, several staff members were waiting for their registration on the EVDS to be confirmed.
Only people registered on the electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) are eligible to be vaccinated.
In a pragmatic but controversial move, the vaccination of staff in the Basic Education sector saw teachers on the Persal system, in other words, state-paid employees, prioritised. So teachers at independent schools, unless they’re 60 and over and were part of the Phase 2 age-based rollout, have not yet been vaccinated. Neither have public school teachers paid by school governing bodies (SGBs).
“As we speak, we are checking that all of those have now been uploaded on to the EVDS,” Docrat said on Friday. Provided the EVDS registration of independent school teachers has been completed, it is anticipated that vaccinations for that group will start next week.
Area based outreach using clinics and community halls as vaccination sites is the next focus for the Health Department’s Makana Subregion.
In a media briefing on 2 July, Acting Minister of Health Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said just over 300 000 teachers had been vaccinated.
Registration for people 50-60 years old opened on 1 July, with vaccinations for this group scheduled to start on 15 July. In a media briefing on 2 July, Kubayi-Ngubane said 354 504 people were so far in the system.
“In parallel to this process, we are also finalising details for the commencement of vaccination of other frontline sectors such as the police, defence, the security cluster and we will provide more details about the timelines soon,” she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane said Pfizer had delivered nearly 4.5 million doses as promised in Quarter 2.
“They committed just over 15.5 million doses in Quarter three, of which we are expecting nearly 2.1 million doses in July,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
Johnson & Johnson had so far delivered 500 000 early access doses used for Sisonke; 300 000 market doses two weeks ago and 1.2 million doses had landed last week.
“These doses all need to be used by 11 August,” Kubayi-Ngubane said. “We are awaiting confirmation for delivery of 500 000 doses (these expire later than the previous doses mentioned) and this then makes up the 2 million to replace those that were lost to the contamination incident.”
Kubayi-Ngubane said the COVID-19 situation in South Africa remained of great concern as the numbers continued to increase at a very rapid rate. In the past 24 hours, there were 21 584 new cases, higher than the average number of new cases per day over the seven preceding days measured at 16 916 cases.
The positivity testing rate had also increased from 27.6% the previous day to 28.4%.
“We make a clarion call to all those who qualify to register and vaccinate,” she said.
The national vaccination programme has four streams
- The general population according to age groups. The next cohort of 50 to 59 year olds can begin registration on 1 July and vaccination of this group will begin on 15 July.
- The second stream began with people working in the basic education sector.
- The third stream is focusing on police and other security personnel. Vaccinations for this group were scheduled to start on 5 July; however, in her 2 July statement, the acting Health Minister said details of the timelines were yet to be confirmed.
- The fourth stream is through workplace programmes in key economic sectors such as mining, manufacturing and the taxi industry.
A study on vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 variants has shown that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine works better against the Delta variant, and gets better over time with both Delta and Beta variants.