No choice of vaccine during mass programme, says Western Cape govt

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The Western Cape govt has given an update on the vaccine rollout.
The Western Cape govt has given an update on the vaccine rollout.
Lulama Zenzile/ Gallo Images/ Die Burger
  • There will be no choice between which Covid-19 vaccine is received when the wider vaccination programme finally gets underway.  
  • There will be no charge at the point of vaccination and plans are being finalised on how and whether medical aid clients pay it back.
  • In the meantime, a drive to get people 60 and over registered is underway, with a call to communities to assist with this. 

There will be no choice of vaccine on offer at the vaccination sites when the wider Covid-19 vaccination programme finally gets underway.  

"There will not be a choice at the point of administration," said Dr Keith Cloete, the Western Cape Head of the Department of Health on Thursday.  

He explained that this decision by the national advisory committee, and the province's expert advisory committee, was based on ethical guidelines.  

READ | Govt to lift suspension of J&J vaccine programme

"For very clear ethical reasons, it is preferred that when somebody presents to a vaccination site, the vaccine that is on offer is the vaccine that you will receive.

"There will not be, at point of vaccination, or even in your registration, a choice given to the person to say 'I prefer this vaccine as opposed to that vaccine'.  

"We procure the vaccines and we guarantee that the vaccines are effective and safe and therefore when you present to vaccination it is the vaccination that's on offer there at that specific site." 

The vaccines available to South Africa so far are Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, with the Johnson & Johnson trial among healthcare workers paused, while six cases of blood costs found in people who had been vaccinated, being investigated.

The government announced on Thursday it would lift the suspension. 

READ | Covid-19 loan guarantee scheme extended by three months

There will be three sites: public, private, and workplaces. There may be some crossover regarding where people go to for the vaccination, but there will still not be payment at the point of vaccination. Medical aid schemes are still working on the details regarding whether there will be a cost to their clients afterward.

In the meantime, a vaccine registration drive is underway, in the hopes of having over 700 000 in the province over the age of 60 vaccinated by the end of June.  

The Western Cape has not seen signs yet of the dreaded third wave, coming out of the Easter period and the long weekends relatively unscathed. 

However, Cloete stressed that continued behaviour change is vital because a slight increase in cases has been observed in the Northern Cape, Free State and North West.

He recommends avoiding inter-provincial travel, crowded spaces and "sharing air space", as well as continuing with hand washing and social distancing.

Rate

The reproduction rate is still hovering around 1 and the test positivity rate is around 4% - lower than it has been during the pandemic.

Three cases were identified from a music concert, but were contained, as have other small outbreaks identified through surveillance.

A call was made for people over 60 register on 14 April, and by 20 April, 111 369 people had already registered.

There is likely to be some overlap into the next age group - people 60 and over - and the phasing in will be based on monitoring of how many of the 60 and over group has been vaccinated.  

If anybody chooses not to be vaccinated, people can still change their mind and register to be available for a vaccine appointment.  

There was a call that people keep their appointment once they get one, so that other people do not miss the opportunity of a slot.  

The drive to register people over 60 for vaccinations will include roping in community workers, block registrations in congregate settings like homes for the aged and people in correctional services facilities, awareness campaigns at public facilities and loud hailing.

In a separate statement, Western Cape Social Development MEC, Sharna Fernandez, urged all old age homes and service centres for the elderly to assist their residents and service users to register for the vaccination, and to contact the provincial Department of Social Development if further assistance is needed.

She said as of 22 April 2021, the number of residents in old age homes who have recovered from Covid-19 increased to 2 634.

The current figures show an increase of 59 recoveries, and an increase in the number of active infections from nine to 14 since the department last provided an update on 31 March 2021.

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