The first consignment of the COVID-19 vaccine, consisting of one-million doses of the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute in India, arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday afternoon [February 1].

This marks the start of the vaccine rollout which President Ramaphosa describes as the largest and most complex logistical vaccine undertaking in the country’s history.

This vaccine was developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca together with the University of Oxford. South Africa was one of the countries where clinical trials were held to assess the drug’s efficacy.

Now that the vaccines have arrived they will be tested at the National Control Laboratory to confirm that their integrity has been maintained during transportation. After testing, they will be distributed across the country to thousands of healthcare workers who every day put their own lives at risk to save others.

The Department of Health has developed an Electronic Vaccine Data System to streamline the vaccine registration and rollout process. This will allow them to capture all relevant data associated with the administration of the vaccine.

This system allows a person to make an appointment as soon as they qualify for a vaccination at the vaccine centre closest to them. The system will record vaccinations as they are administered.

Frontline healthcare workers can enroll in the Electronic Vaccine Date System HERE by filling in the necessary details. All public, private, clinical, and non-clinical healthcare workers should register.

In accordance with the country’s phased rollout strategy, all healthcare workers in the public and private sectors will be prioritised for vaccination.

Provincial health departments have submitted their distribution plans and about 200 facilities to which the vaccines can be distributed have been identified.

Once the vaccination of healthcare workers has been completed, the country will move to Phase 2 of the national vaccine strategy, which will include essential workers, people over 60 years, people with co-morbidities as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hostels.

In Phase 3, the vaccination programme will be extended to the rest of the adult population.

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