Discovery has started Covid-19 vaccinations - and non-members can also get jabbed at its first site

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Luis Alvarez
  • Phase 2 of South Africa's vaccination programme kicked off on Monday.
  • Discovery is administering vaccines to those who have received SMSes, from its head office in Sandton.
  • Other future Discovery vaccine sites include Discovery offices, Virgin Active clubs and large venues like Gallagher Estate.

Discovery has started administering vaccines from its head office in Sandton, as part of Phase 2 of South Africa's vaccination programme.

Phase 2 targets those aged over 60. 

Speaking to Fin24 on Monday, Discovery spokesperson Felicity Hudson confirmed that the head office is part of the approved sites for the mass vaccination programme and it had started administering jabs. 

In an email to clients issued on Monday, Discovery's CEO Adrian Gore said the head office had been transformed into a vaccination centre, with over 30 vaccinators who could administer over 2 500 vaccinations per day. 

Vaccinations will be free for every South African resident, but registration on the Department of Health's Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) is essential. Those registered will receive an SMS with their scheduled vaccination date, time and site. Any qualifying person - not only Discovery medical scheme members - can be vaccinated at a Discovery site.   

Some of the other sites, pending approval from the department of health include Discovery offices, various Virgin Active clubs across the country and large venues such as Gallagher Estate. There should be more than 20 sites set up across the country, and they will come online in a "phased approach", Gore said. 

The costs of vaccines and vaccination will be funded by medical aid members. This will not impact on their medical savings accounts and available benefits, Gore said.

David Shapiro, deputy chairperson of Sasfin Securities, received his jab on Monday.

"There are hundreds of people around here helping, and making sure it goes smoothly," Shapiro said. 

"I had visions of people stampeding here and all over the place - but there were absolutely no bottlenecks," said Shapiro.

As a Discovery member, Shapiro had registered on government's EVDS and said that the confirmation SMS is checked first before you can receive the vaccine. His wife had also registered on the EVDS, but has not yet received her confirmation SMS. "I do not know how they are choosing, whether it is random or whatever it is, but that's fine. I'm not questioning them. The last thing I want to do is start pushing in," he said. 

Medscheme, owned by JSE-listed AfroCentric Group, administers medical aids Fedhealth, Bonitas, Nedgroup, the SABC, POLMED and SAMWUMED. So far, Medscheme's Roodepoort vaccination site has received Covid-19 vaccines.

"Our sites in Cape Town, Louwlardia and Durban are completing the necessary regulatory approvals, with Louwlardia expected to be ready for vaccination by Friday, 21 May, and the remaining two, next week," said Dr Lungi Nyathi, managing executive for clinical risk and advisory at Medscheme.

"Our mobile service, provided by AfroCentric Wellness Odyssey, has been accredited and is awaiting its allotment of appointments and vaccines. All nurses have been trained and the necessary equipment procured," Nyathi added.

The health department has said that government and medical schemes will foot the R70 administration fee for people to receive jabs from private pharmacies Dis-Chem and Clicks.

Clicks will administer the vaccine from 47 of its sites, but is awaiting approval for 520 more sites. Dis-Chem will have 11 mass vaccination sites from 24 May as part of Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout.

This article has been corrected to confirm that Phase 2 only targets those above the age of 60, and not those with comorbidities, essential workers and those with high-risk jobs.

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