A group of peeved frontline healthcare workers walked away from the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital Covid-19 vaccination site on Wednesday swearing they would only return for their vaccinations.
This after allegedly being turned back for a third day in a row and being told by the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccination programme leaders that only 15 people would be vaccinated on Wednesday.
The Gauteng health department moved quickly to explain the misunderstanding on Wednesday.
It said as part of the second round of vaccinations the hospital in Soweto had received a smaller allocation of doses of the J&J vaccine so that equitable distribution could be achieved across the six vaccination sites.
The department also said because of the growing demand for the vaccine from healthcare workers, some were not complying with the registration protocol of first securing a date and vaccine site through the electronic vaccination data system.
In a video, the disgruntled group who had formed a winding queue outside the hospital’s vaccination site, healthcare workers said they had been queuing since 6am.
They spoke of only being told two hours later that they would not be receiving their jabs on the day.
“We suffered from the PPEs [a lack of personal protective equipment] first, yet we deal with the Covid-19 patients every day – now we’re no longer frontlines?
“It’s not our first time coming here, it’s the third time. They keep asking us so many things. Now we have segregated lines for private sector and public sector doctors.
“Now it’s news to us again that they only want 15 people, we left patients in the wards to be here,” one nurse lamented.
Another added: “We work night shift; we came here at 6am to get in the lines and they only attended to us after 8am telling us they’re only taking 15 people. They let us stand in this line all this time.
“Now there’s a list – who wrote that list? Who is on that list? Where does that list come from? Our team in the maternity ward also works with the Covid-19 patients yet not one of us is on that list. It’s wrong.”
Sipho Dinabantu, a Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA shop steward added: “At first when these vaccination [talks] started, people were reluctant to take it [the jab] because of all these conspiracy theories circulating on social media … and then there was news of this Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Video was supplied by sources and City Press added in the subtitles.
“But it was proven not to be efficient and when we heard of the J&J vaccine there were high hopes because of its efficacy of 57%. Now they [healthcare workers] are subjected to this.”
He continued: “This is pouring cold water on the efforts of our minister [of health] and the president because the target is [to vaccinate] 40 million of the adult population to achieve herd immunity. But with this bureaucracy we are being subjected to at the institutions I doubt we will reach it. We are going back to our families now not having had the vaccine.”
Motalatale Modiba, chief director of communications at the department said: “It is important to note that in this second round of the early access implementation study vaccination programme the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital received 840 doses, which must be shared with cluster hospitals.
“The hospital’s vaccination committee took a decision to allocate 15 slots per day to all cluster facilities, inclusive of Baragwanath to achieve equitable coverage of the frontline workers.”
Modiba said the staff members in the video were not scheduled to be vaccinated on Wednesday.
“However, they are in line for vaccination as they are frontline workers. Currently slots are allocated per department for the purpose of maintaining order in the queues.”
Meanwhile, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi said in this second round of vaccinations under the Sisonke programme, led by the SA Medical Research Council, the province had been allocated 18 040 vaccine doses – 13 840 for the public sector and 4 200 for the public sector.
During the first round, the province was allocated 16 800 doses – more than 11 000 of them administered at Bara.
Modiba added: “Due to the growing increase among healthcare workers to participate in the early access [to vaccinations] already in this second round we have seen workers coming in their numbers to some of the sites. Sadly, some [do so] without having complied with the [registration] process. It is important that all healthcare workers use the government’s electronic vaccination data system to register https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za.
“Liaise with your relevant GP group, specialist private groups, or hospital leadership to ensure you have appropriately completed your electronic registration and consent process.
“An electronic voucher must be issued to you prior to attending your relevant vaccination site. Please bring with you your ID, e-voucher and mobile phone. This will allow for better planning and management of queues.”