Even as the third wave of COVID-19 is rearing its ugly head and President Ramaphosa has put the country on Alert Level 3, plans are in place for the roll-out of the vaccination program. This Thursday 150 Sedgefield residents should be getting their first shot at the local clinic.
The much-publicised destroying of two million of South Africa’s Johnson and Johnson vaccines after it was discovered that they had been accidentally contaminated in America has certainly slowed things down, and locally it seems that there aren’t huge numbers of vaccines available.
At the time of going to press, the Sedgefield Clinic is set to start vaccinating on Thursday 17 June – but only 150 doses have been received. Residents who are 60 years old and over who have registered online on the Government EVDS portal are asked to look out for an SMS message informing them of the time they should report to the clinic. There have also been reports of a two queue system to be implemented to accommodate walk-ins.
Meanwhile, in a proactive move to assist with the vaccination roll-out process, Sedgefield Pharmacy has registered to be a dispenser of the vaccine and hopes to begin vaccinating at the end of the month, depending on the arrival of the vaccines themselves.
“Unfortunately, legislation from the Department of Health stipulates that private pharmacies may only dispense the vaccination to those who have some form of medical aid or hospital plan,” explains Pharmacy Manager Stuart Daniell, “But that will include a lot of local people, and so hopefully take some pressure of the government clinic.”
Stuart says the Pharmacy wants to make the process as easy as possible and ensure that as many Sedgefield residents as possible can be vaccinated.
“Most locals will be on our database already, so we will have all their details and be able to set up appointments for them to have their vaccine and notify them accordingly. They still have to be registered on the EVDS system, but even that we can check for them and handle everything from there on,” he told us. He pointed out that anyone sixty and over who is worried that they may not be on the Pharmacy’s records may send their name and ID number to their dedicated WhatsApp line 079 483 1949.
“Please don’t call,” he asked, “We are already overwhelmed with telephonic enquiries about the vaccine.”
For the actual vaccination process, they have been given the use of the NG Church Hall, and a number of volunteer administrators and seven qualified nurses trained in the vaccination process will be stepping in to make the experience as seamless as possible, whilst keeping COVID protocols in place.
Stuart explained that the Government has declared the vaccine a ‘Prescribed Minimum Benefit’ of all medical aids and hospital plans, so no individual will have to pay for it.
“With the hold up on the J&J vaccines, we will most probably be using the Pfizer brand,” he reported, adding that this means two shots, approximately 42 days apart, will be necessary. “Once again, this is something we can handle. So we can notify each person when they are due for their second vaccination,” he said.
The local pharmacist did point out that some Sedgefield residents may meanwhile receive an SMS notification from the EVDS system telling them to report to a government medical facility to get their vaccine. “If it’s before we are ready to roll-out, and they would like to be vaccinated sooner, rather than later, then they should definitely go and have it done,” he said, “The plan is simply to get Sedgefield’s 60+ residents vaccinated in as short a time as possible.”
Stuart also confirmed that the pharmacy would have to stick to the phased roll-out prescribed by the Government with regards to age. In other words, during the current phase, only those sixty and over will be able to get vaccinated. When the Government announces the next phase of the roll-out, those under 60 may register themselves.