The Western Cape government plans to begin its vaccination campaign by February 15 at the latest. The province has a three-phase rollout plan in place and frontline healthcare workers that dealt with COVID-19 patients are in the first cohort eligible for the jab.

The public sector will receive 35 000 doses of the province’s allocation, while the private sector will receive 58 000.

Dr Keith Cloete,  head of Health in the Western Cape, indicated national government committed to ensuring the second batch of vaccines were guaranteed from the same Covidshield allocation.

“We are expecting it in the middle of next week, in all likelihood, and from there to distribute to vaccination points,” said Cloete during the weekly digicon.

“So officially, we will start on Monday, the 15th of February. There’s a possibility that we might do it earlier.”

Western Cape Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo said more than 138 000 health workers are eligible to receive the vaccination. She also added staff are being trained on how to administer the shots.

Vaccinations will take place at 378 public sector facilities and 41 private facilities during the first phase.

Cloete said there is a master facility list and the provincial health department is still planning its rollout strategy for phases 2 and 3, which will require a massive scale-up in comparison to the first.

In phase 2, the provincial government anticipates having to vaccinate up to 2-million residents who meet the following criteria: essential workers, people in congregate settings and vulnerable groups, including people over 60 and anyone older than 18, with high-risk comorbidities.

In phase 3, they are aiming to vaccinate a further 2.9-million residents, and anyone over the age of 18 will qualify in this round.

We have already held exploratory meetings with the City of Cape Town and the IEC in this respect, and a formal committee will commence work next week.

The vaccines will be stored in cold rooms, between two and eight degrees Celsius, at facilities across the province.

“Maintaining the cold chain of the vaccines are also important so while they are distributed to the various hospitals they are in charge of distributing and they have to maintain the cold chain,” said Kim Lowenherz, the provincial health department’s director of pharmacy services.

She added that the security of the vaccines was of utmost importance and unmarked police officers would accompany vaccine distribution when they leave the secure facilities.

Another important layer of security is provided by the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS)  that will be used to track the distribution of vaccines and transportation vehicles.

“The electronic vaccine data system that has been put in place by national where you can already go and register for your vaccine, will record at the time of vaccination, which vaccine you receive,” said Professor Mary-Ann Davies, a public health specialist.

The system will help ensure patients receive the correct vaccine and the proper dosage.

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