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LIVE | Frustation, anger and excitement: Our readers' stories of the phase two vaccine rollout

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A patient getting a Covid-19 vaccine.
A patient getting a Covid-19 vaccine.
Janssen

Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout got underway last month, with rollout happening in mostly urban areas.

We asked News24 readers to share their vaccination journeys. You can read their stories below as well as analysis and opinion.

We would also like to hear about your experience. E-mail opinions@news24.com. Please include a photograph if possible. 


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21 June 13:00

I was finally helped at Charlotte Maxeke 

I successfully registered for my Covid-19 vaccination with the Department of Health as well as with my Medical aid, Discovery Health, on 17 May 2021. I duly received SMS for my vaccination appointment on 8 June at Lonehill Clicks Pharmacy but unfortunately had to travel for business to Cape Town and thus couldn’t keep the appointment. I contacted the department and was informed that it would be rescheduled.

However, with the rising 3rd wave in Gauteng and not having received a reschedule, I decided to do a walk-in and so on Friday 18 June, I reported to Discovery 1 in Sandton but was summarily (and very brusquely) turned away because I didn’t have "the SMS" directing me for vaccination to that venue on that day.

Out of frustration, I phoned a friend who suggested that I go to the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital vaccination station. With trepidation, I went there expecting queues and lousy service.

My delight at arriving there and finding no queue was exceeded by the friendly and helpful staff, from the ladies doing the registration process - even completing my form when I made a mistake on it - to the reassuring sister May who administered my vaccine.

The whole process, from entering the building to post-injection briefing took 45 minutes - these ladies are to be applauded!

Thank you to each and everyone who made the experience literally painless.

- Ré Storm, Johannesburg 

21 June 11:43

PIC: Elders in Soweto getting their Covid-19 jabs

Last week Friday, elders were vaccinated at Meadowlands Community Centre Vaccination Site in Soweto. The health department launched phase two of the vaccination rollout programme which aims to vaccinate citizens older than 60. (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)

<p><strong>PIC: Elders in Soweto getting their Covid-19 jabs</strong></p><p>Last week Friday, elders were vaccinated at Meadowlands Community Centre Vaccination Site in Soweto. The health department launched phase two of the vaccination rollout programme which aims to vaccinate citizens older than 60. (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)<strong></strong></p>

21 June 11:32

Residents at retirement village told to find own way to vaccination site

My 87-year-old mother-in-law was told at the retirement village to come to the frail care section where they would receive the vaccine. But, on arrival, they were told that only frail care patients were going to get vaccinated and that the rest must find their own way to a vaccination site.

I was quite surprised as these elderly people were kept in safety for months to then be told to leave their homes.

I took her to the Boksburg Civic Centre. What a wonderful experience!

The elderly were helped quickly, and the very friendly and efficient staff was wonderful. She must now return on 19 July for the second injection. 

On Friday, they were told that no one is allowed to visit them and that they are not allowed to leave the premises due to the third wave of Covid. I am waiting in anticipation to see how this little hurdle will be overcome.

- Isolde Bayne, Boksburg 

11 June 10:38

A wonderful experience in Houghton

My husband and I had the most fantastic experience when we went for our vaccines on Wednesday, 9 June. Having registered on 19 April 2021, we had still not received an SMS to get our jabs. We decided to try out Sanlam in Houghton, which is a vaccination site. 

We arrived there at 11:30 and left at 12:30. No queue at all! We walked straight in, showed them our registration confirmation, filled in the relevant documents, produced our identity documents and medical aid cards. The longest part was the 15 minutes, where you have to sit and wait to see if you have any side effects. 

We were asked to please send the Over 60's to this site. For info, it is Sanlam, 13 West Street, Houghton. They are there from 08:00 - 16:00 daily.  

Highly recommended, professional and compassionate staff! 

- Basie and Jill Vorster, Johannesburg 

11 June 10:29

We got our text message but vaccinations weren't happening

My wife and I were chuffed to receive SMS's on Saturday, 29 May to be at Impala pharmacy on Sunday, 30 May.

We started in the Phokeng area in the North West where google sent us. We arrived at a house where there was a tent where a religious sermon was taking place. We noticed other people had arrived who were not a part of the congregation. We then decided to travel in a convoy after we were told the pharmacy closed many years ago. 

Eventually, we landed up at Impala mine hospital and thought, "Eureka we found it", after a 2-hour journey. However, there was more disappointment after we were told the day had been cancelled. 

We don't want to make another 40 km trip for nothing, so we have been leaving voice mails at the numbers given to us but with no luck. We are prepared to go anywhere, but walk-ins are few and far between in this part of the world. 

- Cobus Hopley, North West 

11 June 10:25

My appointment date was a Sunday when no vaccinations were being administered 

I received an SMS last Thursday to inform me that I should go to Wentworth hospital on Sunday, 6 June, between 10:00-12:00 for my vaccination. I was given a number and told to produce this with my ID book. 

Upon arrival at the hospital, we were told that the vaccination process was not happening on the weekend. I sent an SMS to the number I found on the health department website but kept getting the response that delivery had failed. I used the Whatsapp number, and while the message was delivered it was not read. I then called the inquiry number that was on the text message I had received notifying me of my appointment. I was told I had missed my appointment but would get another appointment date.

I did not miss my appointment. The site was not functioning. Why on earth give someone an appointment on a day when vaccinations are not being administered? 

- Barry Wegener, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal 

11 June 10:05

We left the hospital after seeing long queues

We received our message late on 31 May to be at the vaccination site on 1 June. Neither my husband nor I slept well that evening because I think we were both so excited.

We had to find the location on Google because we didn't know where it was. We arrived at the Dr CN Phatudi Hospital in Polokwane after an hour-long trip to find a long queue outside the gate. We stood in the line for 20 minutes, which barely moved. My husband went to ask the security guard at the gate why it was going so slow as our 'appointment' was for between 8:00-10:00. He was told that 'times don't work here'.

There were queues outside the gate (the one we were in) and near two tents. We decided to phone one of the pharmacies in town because I had seen that they also do vaccinations. My son phoned the pharmacy and they said we can come but might have to wait as we don't have an appointment there.

Upon arrival at the pharmacy, we were told we couldn't get vaccinated as we don't have medical aid. We offered to pay for the vaccinations but were told this isn't allowed. Staff at the pharmacy were helpful, though, and helped us to phone elsewhere. We were told not to worry if we missed the appointment as we would receive another appointment. 

On the EVDS website, I also read that they would contact people who 'missed' their appointment with another date and time. That was ten days ago. We still have not heard anything, and we are worried we won't be notified again.

- Lynette Venter, Letsitele near Tzaneen.

<p><strong>We left the hospital after seeing long queues</strong></p><p>We received our message late on 31 May to be at the vaccination site on 1 June. Neither my husband nor I slept well that evening because I think we were both so excited. </p><p>We had to find the location on Google because we didn't know where it was.&nbsp;We arrived at the Dr CN Phatudi Hospital in Polokwane after an hour-long trip to find a long queue outside the gate. We stood in the line for 20 minutes, which barely moved. My husband went to ask the security guard at the gate why it was going so slow as our 'appointment' was for between 8:00-10:00. He was told that 'times don't work here'.</p><p>There were queues outside the gate (the one we were in) and near two  tents. We decided to phone one of the pharmacies in town because I had seen that they also do vaccinations. My son phoned the pharmacy and they said we can come but might have to wait as we don't have an appointment there.</p><p>Upon arrival at the pharmacy, we were told we couldn't get vaccinated as we don't have medical aid. We offered to pay for the vaccinations but were told this isn't allowed. Staff at the pharmacy were helpful, though, and helped us to phone elsewhere. We were told not to worry if we missed the appointment as we would receive another appointment.&nbsp;</p><p>On the EVDS website, I also read that they would contact people who 'missed' their appointment with another date and time. That was ten days ago. We still have not heard anything, and we are worried we won't be notified again.</p><p><em>- Lynette Venter, Letsitele near Tzaneen.</em><strong></strong></p>

07 June 09:58

A pleasant experience for my 100-year-old mother 

When Covid-19 vaccinations came to Ballito there was a huge turnout of over 60s eager to get their jab. I took my 100-year-old mother to the venue in torrential rain. 

We provided much laughter for those in the rain-soaked queue, as I tried to steer my hard of hearing mother in the right direction. 

"Keep going!" I yelled, "Keep going! Turn left! Turn left!" 

Luckily she was placed right in the front of the queue, and we were allowed to sit in the scout hall where tables and chairs were set out in readiness for the rush of pensioners.

There was certainly no sign of reluctance or hesitancy in this crowd of wet people.

During the second covid wave, six people in my mother's frail care home had died from the disease, l was determined that she would get vaccinated as soon as possible. What a relief it was for her to be finally free of the fear of contracting this terrible disease.

- Gill Land, Ballito 

<p><strong>A pleasant experience for my 100-year-old mother&nbsp;</strong></p><p>When Covid-19 vaccinations came to Ballito there was a huge turnout of over 60s eager to get their jab. I took my 100-year-old mother to the venue in torrential rain.&nbsp;</p><p>We provided much laughter for those in the rain-soaked queue, as I tried to steer my hard of hearing mother in the right direction.&nbsp;</p><p>"Keep going!" I yelled, "Keep going! Turn left! Turn left!"&nbsp;</p><p>Luckily she was placed right in the front of the queue, and we were allowed to sit in the scout hall where tables and chairs were set out in readiness for the rush of pensioners. </p><p>There was certainly no sign of reluctance or hesitancy in this crowd of wet people.</p><p>During the second covid wave, six people in my mother's frail care home had died from the disease, l was determined that she would get vaccinated as soon as possible. What a relief it was for her to be finally free of the fear of contracting this terrible disease.</p><p><em>- Gill Land, Ballito&nbsp;</em><strong></strong></p>

04 June 09:41

No luck as a walk-in

My wife and I, as pensioners aged 66 years, have had a negative experience to date.mWe registered and received a confirmation SMS on 17 April. Since then, we have heard nothing. 

We went to the Helderberg Hospital in Somerset West where we were told that if you queue at 16:00 you could receive a vaccination if there is a surplus on the day. We tried on Wednesday 26 May and waited from 13:30 to 14:45 for any news with about 50 others in the queue. A hospital representative explained there was no certainty of getting a vaccine as a walk-in. As a walk-in you have to arrive by 07:30 and queue until 11:00 to get a number and then return before 16:00, where hopefully you will get helped. Injections for those with appointments only start at 13:00.

I returned on Monday, 31 May at 07:00 and was second in the queue. We waited in the rain and cold only to be told that there would be no vaccines for walk-ins for the week.

We confirmed that Mediclinic Vergelegen in Somerset West which is near our home is an inoculation site. However, they weren't ready as they are yet to receive vaccines. 

Something is seriously wrong with the Western Cape process. We have friends in Gauteng that have already got their jabs. 

- Dirk Voigt, Western Cape 

04 June 09:20

SA’s vaccine rollout passes the 1 million mark – here’s which provinces are leading the race

South Africa’s vaccine rollout has passed an important milestone by reaching more than one million people at the start of June. As the daily number of doses administered picked up – after a dismally low levels between February and May – the health department has released its first provincial breakdown of cumulative jabs.

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03 June 09:37

Appointment system makes no sense

As an "over sixty" who is registered for the vaccine, I was astonished on Saturday to receive an appointment to present myself at my local Clicks this week. It was painless and professionally given. But can someone please explain to me why my health caregiver spouse who registered in February, as well as a local doctor and even the pharmacist at Clicks who handled my registration still have not received their message from the government registration for an appointment?

How can Phase 2 be activated before Phase 1 is complete?

Next to me was a woman who was told to attend my local Clicks when she has one just one kilometre from where she lives. She asked if it could be changed but was told it couldn't, so she had to travel 120kms round trip to come to my Clicks.

I am not comfortable receiving my vaccine before those who are here to care for us have theirs.

The entire rollout seems to be a lottery based on a computer somewhere with no explanations for how it works. Perhaps the media can get some answers for the millions of South Africans who truly have no idea what criteria the government has entered into their computer? Especially for those health care workers still waiting for their vaccine.  

Stay safe everyone.

- Andrew Satow, Western Cape 

03 June 09:29

It was more of a celebration than a medical procedure 

My Gogo (73) and I arrived at Gate 8 of Charlotte Makexe hospital at 07:20 on Wednesday 2 June. Welcoming security guards greeted us and ushered us into the grounds towards the vaccination centre.

We were not expecting to be successful since we believed the hospital to be closed and under renovation following the recent fire. Instead, friendly and energetic nursing staff welcomed us. They seated us in an orderly queue that had already begun to form. Everyone was a metre a half apart and wearing a mask. I would say there was a maximum of 50 of us in the initial waiting area.

One could tell that the nurses were all fired up and ready to mass vaccinate. There was an hour and a half wait for the vaccines to be delivered, leading to much speculation and conspiracy theories which at least kept us busy. Once the vaccines arrived, the administration process began, and we were asked for our confirmation of registering on the EVDS site as well as Gogo’s ID. The lady behind us had not yet registered on the government site, but she was not turned away. She was registered there and then by the friendly staff.

Gogo was jabbed 20 minutes later in a speedy, friendly and socially distanced process. Even when dreaded loadshedding happened, the nurses continued with the vaccine administration, although we did wait a bit longer for our vaccination card.

As we left, a group of Gogo’s did a little jog together, making jokes that they were off to a party. Congratulations were shared all around. What an unexpectedly positive experience that felt more like a celebration than a medical procedure.

Thank you to everyone involved at Charlotte Maxeke. 

- Claudia de Villiers, Gauteng

<p><strong>It was more of a celebration than a medical procedure&nbsp;</strong></p><p>My Gogo (73) and I arrived at Gate 8 of Charlotte Makexe hospital at 07:20 on Wednesday 2 June. Welcoming security guards greeted us and ushered us into the grounds towards the vaccination centre. </p><p>We were not expecting to be successful since we believed the hospital to be closed and under renovation following the recent fire. Instead, friendly and energetic nursing staff welcomed us. They seated us in an orderly queue that had already begun to form. Everyone was a metre a half apart and wearing a mask. I would say there was a maximum of 50 of us in the initial waiting area. </p><p>One could tell that the nurses were all fired up and ready to mass vaccinate. There was an hour and a half wait for the vaccines to be delivered, leading to much speculation and conspiracy theories which at least kept us busy. Once the vaccines arrived, the administration process began, and we were asked for our confirmation of registering on the EVDS site as well as Gogo’s ID. The lady behind us had not yet registered on the government site, but she was not turned away. She was registered there and then by the friendly staff. </p><p>Gogo was jabbed 20 minutes later in a speedy, friendly and socially distanced process. Even when dreaded loadshedding happened, the nurses continued with the vaccine administration, although we did wait a bit longer for our vaccination card. </p><p>As we left, a group of Gogo’s did a little jog together, making jokes that they were off to a party. Congratulations were shared all around. What an unexpectedly positive experience that felt more like a celebration than a medical procedure. </p><p>Thank you to everyone involved at Charlotte Maxeke.&nbsp;</p><p><em>- Claudia de Villiers, Gauteng</em></p>

03 June 09:08

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02 June 11:42

A positive experience at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital 

Four of us went on Wednesday, 26 May, for our Covid vaccine at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto. 

There was a queue, but it was relatively quick.

Once inside marquee, we were handed cards, and our ID documents were verified for age. We also had to show our registration confirmation. We sat down, and after 15 minutes Professor Richard Cooke gave us the low down on the vaccine.

We were taken in groups of 20 into the hall foyer, seated and addressed by a nursing sister who explained what to expect next. We were then escorted to the vaccination stations in the hall.

The staff were professional and polite and extremely friendly. After the vaccine, our cards were updated and we were told to be back in 42 days for the second shot. 

There were even photo booths where one could take pics with board saying we had our vaccine! All in all, it was a wonderful experience! Professor Richard Cooke was amazing as he interacted with people in queues, ensuring everyone was attended to. He and his staff were terrific—accolades to him and his caring staff.  

- Patricia Wessels, Gauteng  

02 June 11:12

No vaccination site in Hermanus 

I am 70-years-old and diabetic. My wife is 69-years-old. We registered on the EVDS system as early as February.

All our younger siblings in Gauteng have already received their first dose of vaccines.

In Hermanus, where we live, we are yet to see the first public vaccination centre open.  The Hawston (Thusong Centre) was meant to start operating on 31 May, but we have now learnt this may only happen on 4 June. We have yet to receive a text message advising us of an appointment but do not hold out any hope.

Although old age homes in Hermanus have been catered for, we are not seeing any effort to address the rest of us. We are seeing public centres being opened all around us: Stanford, Elgin, Greyton, Caledon, etc. but absolutely nothing in Hermanus. Why? What can the logical reason be for this lack of concern and care? 

- Keith E Ashen, Hermanus 

02 June 10:57

I am overwhelmed by South Africa's kindness

I am overwhelmed by the kindness, professionalism and positive experience I had last Saturday at Somerset Hospital.

It was a weekend, and all staff had volunteered their time for the day. The whole experience took 30 mins from start to finish, including the 15 minute observation time after the vaccine.

I am on an expired tourist visa and unable to leave South Africa due to the restrictions and quarantine time demands in my destination country. I cannot believe that I have been treated with the same care and compassion as South Africans, an experience I don't think is evident in many other countries at this time.

Thank you to the excellent staff.

I look forward to my second jab in 40 days. 

- Bernadette Smyth, Somerset  

31 May 10:43

Too much congestion at Polokwane hospital 

My 85-year-old mum got a text message on 21 May to go get her vaccine. Unfortunately, we're were out of town. On 24 May I took her to Polokwane hospital for her jab. The congestion I found there was scary!

From 08:30, the crowding was unbelievable, even to get parking. I had no option but to return home without her getting the vaccine. There were tents outside the hall and not enough chairs. The logistics are horrible. 

- Joyce Mokoena, Polokwane 

31 May 10:43

Nurse bought sandwiches for my diabetic husband

I can't thank Mitchell's Plain Hospital staff enough for their kindness and efficiency during the vaccination rollout. We were given a number upon arrival. The queue moved on about six times when people were called.

After a while, I asked how long we would have to wait because I needed to get something for my husband to eat because he is diabetic and if there were there any shops nearby. The nurse said, "Oh don't worry, I'm going to Shoprite, I'll get you a sandwich".

I gave her some money and 20 minutes later she appeared with egg sandwiches which were delicious.

The whole process took just under two hours, and I am so pleased we went and were welcomed with such kindness. We even had a few bars of Happy Birthday over the public address system for someone's birthday which made us all smile.

- Sally Perrot, Cape Town 

31 May 10:42

A professional experience in Primrose

My husband and I received our Pfizer vaccination at Ackerman's Pharmacy in Primrose on 24 May. When we registered, I was given Ackerman's as my venue for our vaccinations. The message said I must wait for a voucher and a date. This did not arrive.

On 23 May, I looked up Ackerman's Pharmacy on Google and found that vaccination had commenced a week ago for over 60's who are on the system at Ackerman's Pharmacy. The next day we drove Daveyton to Primrose.

Parking was ample. Everything went well - from filling in forms to the Covid-19 questionnaire plus temperature checking. We were ushered into the pharmacy where a woman captured our information on the computer after asking for our ID's and Medical Aid. Thereafter we were informed to go to the vaccination site. I was number 200 and it was 11:30. My husband was number 201.

There were queue marshalls, chairs, and gazebo's on the vaccination site. We were also given bottled water. The waiting period was not long. After our jab, we were ushered to another gazebo for 15 minutes of observation.

Thumbs up for Ackerman's Pharmacy. Your registered nurses were professional. They also gave us pamphlets to read about side effects and how to manage them.

We cannot wait for our second jab.

- Ntale Mokgabudi, Daveyton.

28 May 11:21

It was a painless injection

Determined to get my Covid-19 jab, I drove from Ballito to Kwadukuza in the hope that walk-ins were been accepted at the vaccination site at the town hall.  

There was a large, noisy queue outside the hall and when l tried to join, a gentleman told me, "No, no, go to the front and tell them you can't queue".

I use a crutch, and my legs are often very wobbly. After following the gentleman's instructions, I was very grateful to be moved to a small room next to the hall.  I was number 181 seated with the number 30s. I kept my number held tightly in my hand out of view.

A good-natured police officer was there to control us 'unruly pensioners'. 

"Everyone is using a stick today. I've never saw so many sticks before," he said. 

"I've got a brain injury," shouted the lady seated next to me. "And l can't walk properly," grumbled the man next to her. 

A nurse walked up and down, asking if everyone was registered and helped those who weren't. Not once did l hear the word voucher, and no one was turned away.

After a short wait, it was my turn, and honestly, it was a painless injection.

The staff were kind, efficient and friendly. I give thanks and lots of praise to them. 

- Gill Land (68), Ballito

28 May 11:11

My mother is 89 and still hasn't received a notification to get her vaccine

My mom is 89, and is on medical aid. She registered EVDS on 17 April. To date she has received no slot voucher to get her vaccine.

We decided to see if Dischem in Midrand allowed walk-ins, but we were turned away. It is such a disappointment when she probably needs it more than those younger than her.

I heard on the radio that some people registered last week and have already got their jabs. I've also head of people queue jumping at Chris Hani Baragwanath.

Equally disappointing is how my mother's medical aid has treated their members who are over 80 years old. They have done zero for us.

I don't want an 89-year-old person fighting for a place in the queue at the crack of dawn.

- Marisa Byliefeldt, Johannesburg 

28 May 10:59

I went to a clinic in Hillbrow as a walk-in 

I had my vaccination two days ago at the Hillbrow Community Health Centre as a walk-in. I went there following a tip-off from people in my seniors' gym class. I would say about 70% or more of the people there were walk-ins.

I had registered on the EVDS system just after midnight on the appointed date; I was that keen, only to hear the following day that the site was only going live in the afternoon. I re-registered when the system was live for both myself and my domestic worker. We have yet to receive an SMS with a date and time.

Friends who registered days after I got their SMS's and were vaccinated already at Discovery in Sandton.

I decided to take a chance and go to Hillbrow. Parking was safe inside the premises; there were chairs out on the lawn in the sun, a good atmosphere, friendly staff, and maybe 40/50 people in the queue ahead of me. It took about three and a half hours to complete the process.

Three nurses were on duty with three laptops for the entire centre. It's not clear why it took that long for so few people? It could only be the government computer system. The system went offline for a while but was quickly fixed.

Once inside the building, the vaccination process was quick and efficient, making it hard to understand the long waiting time. My friends who went to Discovery were in and out within an hour. 

I am grateful and extremely relieved that the first part is done.

- Nerina Dehnke, Johannesburg 

27 May 10:31

"I am so relieved"

At the Bertha Gxowa Hospital in Germiston, Gauteng, people who had received SMSes started queueing from just before 12:00. Personnel were at the ready, ushering people to a dedicated site. Three processes were followed: the first was screening, where temperatures were taken and a standard Covid-19 questionnaire was completed; the second process was the verification of people's IDs and the reference numbers they received via SMS; and the third queue – by far the longest – was for the actual jab itself.

At this location, it was the preferred Pfizer vaccine. The whole process took between two and three hours. As queues of people moved around from plastic chair to plastic chair, a nurse explained the vaccine's side effects and told the crowd they could receive their second jabs on 7 June.

"If anyone here is pregnant, you must speak to me," she said in jest, drawing laughter from the mostly elderly crowd.

Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout targets people aged 60 and older and people with comorbidities.

A man emerged from the vaccination room, waving his vaccination card around like a prize medal. "I'm just so relieved," the former teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, told News24.

"It's been such a tough year for all of us. I retired in October last year and could not spend my last working year doing what I love best, which is to teach."

An exhausted-looking nurse, who did not want to be named, said staff were at the ready on Monday morning at 07:30. "I got my jab two weeks ago, at Charlotte Maxeke [Johannesburg Academic Hospital]. It is the old people's time now."

Complaints were few. Most people sat it out until they were called to receive their much-anticipated jabs. Some knitted or read books while others played games on their phones. As they waited, many chatted about their experiences since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early last year.

Every few minutes, a call would come from the vaccination hall with an arbitrary number: "Six!", "Three!", passed along the chain of officials, before people were admitted to the vaccination room. There, the game of musical chairs enters its last phase.

- Riaan Grobler, who took his father to be vaccinated.

<p><strong>"I am so relieved"</strong></p><p>At the Bertha Gxowa Hospital in Germiston, Gauteng, people who had received SMSes started queueing from just before 12:00. Personnel were at the ready, ushering people to a dedicated site. Three processes were followed: the first was screening, where temperatures were taken and a standard Covid-19 questionnaire was completed; the second process was the verification of people's IDs and the reference numbers they received via SMS; and the third queue – by far the longest – was for the actual jab itself. </p><p>At this location, it was the preferred Pfizer vaccine. The whole process took between two and three hours. As queues of people moved around from plastic chair to plastic chair, a nurse explained the vaccine's side effects and told the crowd they could receive their second jabs on 7 June.</p><p>"If anyone here is pregnant, you must speak to me," she said in jest, drawing laughter from the mostly elderly crowd. </p><p>Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout targets people aged 60 and older and people with comorbidities.</p><p>A man emerged from the vaccination room, waving his vaccination card around like a prize medal. "I'm just so relieved," the former teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, told News24.</p><p>"It's been such a tough year for all of us. I retired in October last year and could not spend my last working year doing what I love best, which is to teach."</p><p>An exhausted-looking nurse, who did not want to be named, said staff were at the ready on Monday morning at 07:30. "I got my jab two weeks ago, at Charlotte Maxeke [Johannesburg Academic Hospital]. It is the old people's time now."</p><p>Complaints were few. Most people sat it out until they were called to receive their much-anticipated jabs. Some knitted or read books while others played games on their phones. As they waited, many chatted about their experiences since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early last year.</p><p>Every few minutes, a call would come from the vaccination hall with an arbitrary number: "Six!", "Three!", passed along the chain of officials, before people were admitted to the vaccination room. There, the game of musical chairs enters its last phase.</p><p><em>- Riaan Grobler, who took his father to be vaccinated.</em></p><p></p>

27 May 10:30

I am looking forward to hugging my children again

My daughter Kahmiela did my registration on 16 April, when registrations opened.

From Monday (17 May) when vaccinations for over-60s were supposed to start, my children were nagging me to check my SMSes first thing in the morning. On Monday night, an SMS came in saying I must come for my appointment between 12:00 and 14:00 on 18 May.

It was only when I WhatsApped my children on Tuesday morning that I realised that 18 May was THAT DAY! I had just had a knee operation the previous week and couldn't drive yet, but luckily we are a big family so I knew it would be figured out. So I was lucky. Even with the short notice I could start getting ready, knowing my children would sort it out.

It turned out that even among six children, four children-in-law and 10 grandkids, almost everyone was busy with something they couldn't drop. But one of my sons explained that it was urgent and he left work to fetch me and take me to the clinic.

We got to the clinic at about 12:45. There were only two or three people waiting, so I didn't wait long. It was about 20 or 30 minutes.

The nurses were a bit concerned about me being in a wheelchair and my recent operation, but they were all nice. It was hard to really connect because everyone was wearing masks, but you could tell they were excited to be vaccinating people.

There was an air of excitement and joy, which was lovely after so much sadness. I was nervous before the shot, praying for a positive experience, and then it was just like any other shot, quick quick.

The nurses said we were welcome to take a photo – I think they wanted photos to be shared to encourage others to get vaccinated.

They gave me a date in June to come back for the second shot, and said they would message me to confirm the time. So far (24 hours later), I've not felt anything different. No side effects so far. It all happened so fast, from realising that the appointment was that same day to getting there and getting the shot, that I didn't have time to think about it.

It was only when my husband pointed out to me the next morning that I could soon start mixing with people again, that the implications really hit me and I got emotional.

I feel such relief now, because it's been so hard, keeping a distance from my children and grandchildren. I realised that we've been a bit removed from what's going on, because our children have worked so hard to keep us safe – none of them would hug me for over a year now!

Today I feel relieved and hopeful, and what I'm most looking forward to is just being able to hug my children again, soon!

- Zaida Ahmed (71), Wynberg, Cape Town

<p><strong>I am looking forward to hugging my children again</strong></p><p>My daughter Kahmiela did my registration on 16 April, when registrations opened.</p><p>From Monday (17 May) when vaccinations for over-60s were supposed to start, my children were nagging me to check my SMSes first thing in the morning. On Monday night, an SMS came in saying I must come for my appointment between 12:00 and 14:00 on 18 May. </p><p>It was only when I WhatsApped my children on Tuesday morning that I realised that 18 May was THAT DAY! I had just had a knee operation the previous week and couldn't drive yet, but luckily we are a big family so I knew it would be figured out. So I was lucky. Even with the short notice I could start getting ready, knowing my children would sort it out.</p><p>It turned out that even among six children, four children-in-law and 10 grandkids, almost everyone was busy with something they couldn't drop. But one of my sons explained that it was urgent and he left work to fetch me and take me to the clinic.</p><p>We got to the clinic at about 12:45. There were only two or three people waiting, so I didn't wait long. It was about 20 or 30 minutes.</p><p>The nurses were a bit concerned about me being in a wheelchair and my recent operation, but they were all nice. It was hard to really connect because everyone was wearing masks, but you could tell they were excited to be vaccinating people.</p><p>There was an air of excitement and joy, which was lovely after so much sadness. I was nervous before the shot, praying for a positive experience, and then it was just like any other shot, quick quick.</p><p>The nurses said we were welcome to take a photo – I think they wanted photos to be shared to encourage others to get vaccinated.</p><p>They gave me a date in June to come back for the second shot, and said they would message me to confirm the time. So far (24 hours later), I've not felt anything different. No side effects so far. It all happened so fast, from realising that the appointment was that same day to getting there and getting the shot, that I didn't have time to think about it.</p><p>It was only when my husband pointed out to me the next morning that I could soon start mixing with people again, that the implications really hit me and I got emotional.</p><p>I feel such relief now, because it's been so hard, keeping a distance from my children and grandchildren. I realised that we've been a bit removed from what's going on, because our children have worked so hard to keep us safe – none of them would hug me for over a year now!</p><p>Today I feel relieved and hopeful, and what I'm most looking forward to is just being able to hug my children again, soon!</p><p><em>- Zaida Ahmed (71), Wynberg, Cape
Town</em><br /></p>

27 May 10:30

Delayed vaccine rollout in Wakkerstroom

Nursing sisters from Volksrust arrived at Dana, an old age home in Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga on 17 May to discuss administering the vaccine.

Only 78 residents out of 120 people were prepared to get the vaccine. People are very sceptical of the vaccine.

The nurses told us that they would still have to go all the way to Ermelo, which is an hour and a half from Wakkerstroom, to fetch the vaccine before they could administer it. On the day that the vaccinations were meant to go ahead, the man in Ermelo who was meant to issue the vaccines to the sisters did not arrive on time, which meant the nurses only arrived at Dana just after 12:00 on 19 May.

The process went well. There was only one concern when one resident's blood pressure shot up after she was inoculated. The nurses will return on 10 June to provide residents with their second doses and to inoculate those who did not receive the first doses.

Dana was the first place where the nurses administered the vaccine, so it was also a bit of a learning curve for them. 

- Owen Castleman, manager at Dana in Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga.

<p><strong>Delayed vaccine rollout in Wakkerstroom</strong></p><p>Nursing sisters from Volksrust arrived at Dana, an old age home in Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga on 17 May to discuss administering the vaccine. </p><p>Only 78 residents out of 120 people were prepared to get the vaccine. People are very sceptical of the vaccine. </p><p>The nurses told us that they would still have to go all the way to Ermelo, which is an hour and a half from Wakkerstroom, to fetch the vaccine before they could administer it.&nbsp;On the day that the vaccinations were meant to go ahead, the man in Ermelo who was meant to issue the vaccines to the sisters did not arrive on time, which meant the nurses only arrived at Dana just after 12:00 on 19 May.</p><p>The process went well. There was only one concern when one resident's blood pressure shot up after she was inoculated. The nurses will return on 10 June to provide residents with their second doses and to inoculate those who did not receive the first doses.</p><p>Dana was the first place where the nurses administered the vaccine, so it was also a bit of a learning curve for them.&nbsp;</p><p><em>- Owen Castleman, manager at Dana in Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga.</em></p><p></p><p></p><p></p>

27 May 10:30

Vaccine rollout: After a long dark year of fear, there is hope ahead

Melanie Verwoerd writes that she had dreaded taking her mom to go get her vaccine but after a few small hiccups, it was smooth sailing.


READ MORE

27 May 10:30

Still waiting for the vaccination

After retiring at the age of 60 we were looking forward to a healthy and stress-free retirement.

After six months I got sick and after many tests I received six heart bypasses. Four years later, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and lymph cancer.

Although both of us are extremely thankful for our recoveries, we were aware of the fact that we had to be very careful about our lifestyle.

When Covid-19 arrived during 2020 we were extremely watchful not to get sick. We also sincerely hoped that our government would move fast to get the necessary resources to support all the people of this country.

About a month ago we registered to get the vaccines for Covid-19. We received an SMS confirming our registration, but nothing after that. It's needless to say how disappointed we are. We are looking forward to enjoying our retirement with the freedom we previously had.

The fear of becoming sick or unknowingly spreading the virus can, some days, be a debilitating thought.

- Johan (67) and Annemarie (67) Basson, Reebok, Western Cape


<p><strong>Still waiting for the vaccination</strong></p><p>After retiring at the age of 60 we were looking forward to a healthy and stress-free retirement.</p><p>After six months I got sick and after many tests I received six heart bypasses. Four years later, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and lymph cancer. </p><p>Although both of us are extremely thankful for our recoveries, we were aware of the fact that we had to be very careful about our lifestyle.</p><p>When Covid-19 arrived during 2020 we were extremely watchful not to get sick. We also sincerely hoped that our government would move fast to get the necessary resources to support all the people of this country. </p><p>About a month ago we registered to get the vaccines for Covid-19. We received an SMS confirming our registration, but nothing after that. It's needless to say how disappointed we are. We are looking forward to enjoying our retirement with the freedom we previously had.</p><p>The fear of becoming sick or unknowingly spreading the virus can, some days, be a debilitating thought.</p><p><em>- Johan (67) and Annemarie (67) Basson, Reebok, Western Cape</em><strong></strong></p><p></p><p><br /></p>

27 May 10:30

I am positive about the process, even though I am still waiting

I did the registration in February and received an SMS that confirmed I was registered. I was very happy to read the message.It was very easy to do the registration and I didn't experience any problems.

I really hope it will be easy from here; perhaps a hick-up here and there. I hope they will make it possible to have specific dates, venues and time slots.

I am very positive about the whole vaccination process and am really looking forward to it.

I lost a very good friend of 31 years in 2020.

- Wina du Plessis (72), Johannesburg 

27 May 10:30

How bending the rules is getting people vaccinated

Nicoli Nattrass writes that it seems unnecessary to turn elderly, frail people away from vaccination sites just because they are not registered at that site.

READ MORE

27 May 10:29

Vaccination rollout: What are we doing well? What could we do better?

It has been a week since South Africa started its mass rollout for 60-year-olds and older. Nathan Geffen and Marcus Low assess the rollout so far.

READ MORE

27 May 10:29

It felt like voting day in 1994

It almost felt like voting day in our country's new democracy, way back in the 1990s .

The staff at Helderberg Hospital were so charming and pleasant, it was so worth the drive from Cape Town.

My partner, who is 72 received the voucher sent the night before. I decided to drive her there and hopefully get a vaccine.We were told that we were a couple so therefore, yes, I can get the vaccine too. I said that I was over 80 and needed to sit and we were told to go right in, past the first crowd, and take a seat.

We were done in 20 minutes and were asked to sit for a further 15 minutes, just in case we didn't feel well.

We drove home and didn't have side effects.

We are very impressed by the staff and their incredibly good spirits dealing with all of us. Thank you! Thank you! See you again on 8 June.

- John Akestar, Cape Town, Western Cape

27 May 10:29

I thought of my husband, who recently died on Covid, when I got my jab

We had loadshedding in Mandalay on Monday and my phone died. Loadshedding continued right through to Tuesday evening. After charging my phone I received this SMS and was shocked to realise I had missed my appointment. This SMS was received at 22:00 on Monday and I was scheduled for the next morning. 

I was persuaded to make another appointment. 

The SMS said report to Mitchell's Plain hospital and my daughter organised an Uber ride. To my shock and horror, I was then advised that the vaccination was actually done at the Lentegeur psychiatric facility.  I bummed a lift from a group of elderly people who had also arrived for their vaccines at Mitchell's Plain hospital.

When we arrived there, it was quite full. Everything, however, was very orderly. The nursing sister advised us that there would only be 150 doses and I was no 132. I was so relieved but I thought of my husband, who had just missed out. He died on 24 January due to Covid-19.

There were a few people who hadn't registered at all, but all in all, it was a very positive experience and I'm thankful.

Oh, and tell everyone to take a pen along. I wish they had said that!

- Marion Phillips, Cape Town, Western Cape.

27 May 10:16

We hardly slept the night before getting our jabs

We registered and totally forgot about it. I got a message that we were registered and on 17 May, we received a message to report to Mitchell's Plain Hospital the next day, 18 May, for the Pfizer vaccination.

We were so surprised and excited that it was actually happening. Believe you me, I hardly slept that night. Our appointments were between 8:00 and 10:00.

When we got there at 07:30, we were taken to the area where it was taking place, filled in a form to verify our details, waited for 10 minutes and then were ushered to where it was taking place, 12 at a time.

The staff and nurses were absolutely wonderful and on the ball.

We got our second date for vaccination for 15 June.

We then had to sit for 15 minutes - it took about 30 minutes from start to finish.

I must really give praise to everyone involved - no standing in long queues as seen on TV. Once again, well done to the staff and everyone involved.

- Eleanor (66) and Percy (70) Petersen, Portlands, Mitchells Plain, Western Cape.  

<p><strong>We hardly slept the night before getting our jabs</strong></p><p>We registered and totally forgot about it. I got a message that we were registered and on 17 May, we received a message to report to Mitchell's Plain Hospital the next day, 18 May, for the Pfizer vaccination. </p><p>We were so surprised and excited that it was actually happening. Believe you me, I hardly slept that night. Our appointments were between 8:00 and 10:00.</p><p>When we got there at 07:30, we were taken to the area where it was taking place, filled in a form to verify our details, waited for 10 minutes and then were ushered to where it was taking place, 12 at a time.</p><p>The staff and nurses were absolutely wonderful and on the ball. </p><p>We got our second date for vaccination for 15 June. </p><p>We then had to sit for 15 minutes - it took about 30 minutes from start to finish.</p><p>I must really give praise to everyone involved - no standing in long queues as seen on TV. Once again, well done to the staff and everyone involved.</p><p>-<em>&nbsp;Eleanor (66) and Percy (70) Petersen, Portlands, Mitchells Plain, Western Cape.&nbsp;&nbsp;</em><strong></strong></p>
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