- SA will start vaccinating those above the age of 60 for Covid-19 on Monday.
- Government will soon announce walk-in and call centre registration details for those who cannot register on the Department of Health's electronic portal.
- Dis-Chem will roll out 11 mass vaccination sites from 24 May.
Next Monday, South Africa will enter a critical phase of its Covid-19 vaccine rollout as those above the age of 60 will start getting jabs even if they are not healthcare workers.
But there is still a lot of hesitation, and detailed accounts of what exactly will transpire from next Monday have been sketchy. Now the deputy director-general for the National Department of Health (DOH), Anban Pillay, and Business for SA (B4SA) Working Group have given more information on what the general public can expect.
B4SA earlier pledged to mobilise the private sector to help boost vaccination efforts.
Government plans to vaccinate 16.6 million people over a six-month period under phase two. This will run in parallel with the vaccination of about 300 000 remaining healthcare workers who have not been vaccinated under phase one. Phase one, which was exclusively aimed at reaching 500 000 healthcare workers, will conclude on Friday.
Phase two will not only vaccinate the elderly, but eventually also those with comorbidities, and Pillay said the government will also identify high-risk worker categories – the essential workers – vaccinating people over the age of 40 in those jobs.
"On Monday, we are planning to go to the old-age homes where we think we will find the over-60s. Many of them are frail. So, rather than asking them to come to our facilities, we've asked the provincial colleagues to go to those facilities," he said.
For the elderly not in care homes, the DOH is working with the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to register people at social grants pay points.
"They will register people and even make an attempt to even set up vaccination sites where feasible in those areas so that it can be convenient for pensioners," said Pillay. For those who cannot register on the government's Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) portal, the department is also making arrangements for walk-in registrations at the vaccination sites, particularly in the rural areas. In addition, the department is busy setting up a call centre to register people.
Getting vaccinated at Dis-Chem
Dis-Chem has been part of Covid-19 response since March last year, when it rolled out over 400 testing sites. With the vaccination of the general public beginning next week, the pharmacy group plans to roll out 11 mass vaccination sites by the 24th of May in five provinces.
Dis-Chem Pharmacies clinic manager Lizeth Kruger said the plan is to vaccinate 30 000 people per day, subject to the availability of the jabs stock, which the DOH will provide.
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Kruger said Dis-Chem can scale up its vaccination plan if the 11 mass sites are not enough. The pharmacy group will also roll out the vaccines in its 280 clinics across the country at a later stage when it gets the delayed Johnson & Johnson jabs. Consumers will need to use the government's EVDS portal to register for vaccinating at Dis-Chem too.
"But the mass vaccination sites definitely will be active from 24 May," she said.
The article has been updated following government confirmation that only those above the age of 60 will be vaccinated from Monday 17 May - and not essential workers and those with comorbidities.