“With this Covid, you’re fine today, and very sick tomorrow – and you won’t know where you got it,” said Mavis Ntlumbini, 81. She’d come with her daughter Phila Ntlumbini from Joza Street to get her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Extension 9 Hall on Monday 5 July.
“I’m very happy I’m going to be getting the vaccine today,” she said. “I know it will help keep me and my family safer.”
She’d been among around 60 mostly elderly people sitting on the stoep outside, in two socially distanced rows. They’d reached the inside seating, it was nearly her turn and she was excited.
“The response has been very good, as you can see,” site coordinator Marylin Heywood said. So good that they had to send for more vaccines as the numbers started to push towards 200.
In summer, the Extension 9 hall is stiflingly hot. In winter, it’s really cold. With Covid protocol requiring good ventilation, the doors and windows were, correctly, wide open and it was safely icy.
“Sorry!” winced Emily Repinz as Phumelelo Krisjan, from Extension 10, removed four layers of warm clothing to bare his upper arm.
Repinz, a Professional Nurse working at Rhodes University as a clinical research co-ordinator is among several health professionals boosting the Department of Health’s Makana Subregion team in its vaccination drive. Recently retired Head Nurse at the Rhodes Health Centre Heather Ferreira is another providing professional support to the Department’s campaign.
“Are you feeling okay?” Repinz asked Thandiwe Caphuma, who had accompanied Krisjan, and who also qualified for vaccination.
Caphuma was nervous about the needle and just managed a nod.
At the other end, Fort England staffer Sonwabo Potelwa carefully questioned Nongayi Makobiyana, who lives in eQude Extension 9. A fit and lively 86, she listened carefully as Potelwa told her what her first Pfizer would and wouldn’t do for her, what side effects to look out for and what to do about them.
“We will see you here again for your second dose on the 16th of August,” Potelwa said.
“Nothing. It wasn’t sore at all,” she said afterwards cheerfully. “I’m very happy to get it though because I believe it’s going to help me stay healthy.”
By the time she received her vaccination, mid-afternoon, she was number 222 for the day.
Heading towards 4pm, there were still people arriving, mostly on foot. It was going to be a long day for the registration and vaccination teams with around 90 still on the stoep, or inside.
Site manager Phumla Hermans later told GMDirect they’d remained there until after 6pm and that more than 300 people had been vaccinated.
The following information was updated on 9 July 2021 at 12pm:
The fixed-site vaccination programme continues at Settlers Hospital and Clicks. Registration opened on 1 July for the 50-plus age group and vaccinations for that group officially start on 15 July. The provincial launch of the vaccination programme for police was on Thursday 8 July. As of Thursday, the provincial spokesperson for SAPS was not able to confirm exactly when SAPS members in Makhanda would receive their shots.
Community vaccinations continued this week, with the team moving to the Recreation Hall in Albany Road on Tuesday 6 July and returning to Extension 9 for a second round of vaccinations. At this stage, the 60-plus age group, health care workers, teachers and police are eligible to be vaccinated.
The Department of Health’s Subdistrict Head Mohamed Docrat said by Thursday 8 July, more than 1500 people had been vaccinated in Makhanda this week. This includes at the Settlers and Clicks fixed sites and community outreach campaigns as follows: Alicedale (270); Riebeeck East (66); BB Zondani Hall, FIngo (264); Extension 9 Hall (436); Recreation Hall (200)
In addition, 546 staff employed by the Department of Basic Education had been vaccinated in Makhanda, Docrat said. The balance of staff in Basic Education – independent school teachers, along with school governing body appointed staff and others in public schools not on the state payroll and HR system, Persal, are expected to be vaccinated on Friday 9 July.
The Department of Health has clarified the issue regarding reimbursing uninsured patients vaccinated against COVID-19 at private vaccination sites. The department said in an effort to accelerate the vaccination programme across the country, both uninsured and insured people will be allocated to the most appropriate site, whether it is a private or public site.