From jazz to jabs: CTICC turns into mass Covid-19 vaccination site

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Covid-19 vaccinations continue in Cape Town.
Covid-19 vaccinations continue in Cape Town.
Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan
  • The Cape Town International Convention Centre will open as a mass Covid-19 vaccination site on Wednesday. 
  • The partnership with Discovery Health hopes to see 4 000 people vaccinated a day.  
  • The insured and uninsured who are 50 and older can all get vaccinated there. 

The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) will open as a mass Covid-19 vaccination site on Wednesday. 

Once a thriving hub of Thor lookalikes for ComicCon, decor and bridal expos, and jazz spectacles, the centre in the city's CBD will once again change gears, turning into a mass vaccination site.

It has already hosted the Hospital of Hope, said to have been the continent's largest Covid-19 field hospital. 

PICS | Covid-19: Gauteng cops queue for jabs as vaccine rollout begins

With 50 vaccination stations and two of the centre's restaurants hired for waiting areas, it's all systems go for Wednesday, with up to 700 vaccinations expected to be administered on launch day. 

The Department of Health and Discovery hope to ramp up vaccinations to at least 4 000 a day once teething problems have been resolved. 

They also hope to have vaccinated up to 750 000 people by December. 

READ | Lockdown: Public schools to reopen a week earlier because of early closure

The Western Cape was the first to experience a surge in cases in the early days of the pandemic. It also recorded the first death as a result of complications related to contracting the virus, and has even tried to buy its own vaccinations. 

"This is an outstanding partnership between government and the private sector," said Premier Alan Winde during a tour with an online link for the media to keep attendance for the tour low.  

"It shows a unique kind of working relationship here in South Africa that is developing over time," said Winde.

READ | CTICC 'Hospital of Hope' patients stream in as Western Cape records 38 more Covid-19 deaths

The initiative will be around R15 million for six months of hiring fees, with the Department of Health and Discovery Health sharing the cost.

The City of Cape Town's staff made the site operational before handing it over to the Department of Health and Discovery Health.

The Western Cape government will be primarily responsible for overall coordination, supply of vaccines, clinical and facilities management.

Discovery Health will be responsible for client experience, various aspects of the technology, and administrative functions.

A billing system that creates an invoice for medical aids or the Department of Health is also in place. People are not charged at the vaccination site.

The cost of 250 staff will also be shared 50/50 between the Department of Health and Discovery Health. 

Head of the Department of Health in the Western Cape, Dr Keith Cloete, marvelled at how the pandemic had cut through the usually paralysing red tape to get the centre ready.

He said:

It [the pandemic] has taught us how to be resilient, how to be agile and how to respond to the realities. We also realised numerous opportunities to reset and reboot normal ways of doing things. If it wasn't for Covid, it would take the better part of two years, with legal frameworks.

READ | City of Cape Town to invest R200 million to offset CTICC's Covid-19 losses  

"It's a celebration of what is possible in terms of the healthcare system of South Africa," said Cloete, an advocate of universal healthcare.  

The centre is the third private mass vaccination site in Cape Town, after the Old Mutual Centre and the Momentum initiative. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech double dose and Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines will be administered, with an area created in the vast exhibition hall for refrigeration and storage for consumables.

Efficacy 

There is also a section to help walk-ins register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).

Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach said vaccine efficacy data analysis of Discovery Health members was showing promising results. 

Preliminary data analysis shows a 47% reduction in Covid-19 infection rates among vaccinated populations 21 days after receiving the first Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine dose and an estimated 50% reduction in hospitalisation post first dose. 

"These findings are congruent with international experience and highly encouraging from a South African perspective," he said. 

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said plans were also afoot to make sure that Cape Town's large homeless population was included in the vaccination programme. 

Work is underway to help register homeless people on the EVDS.

In the meantime, the province has almost 200 other sites, as well as mobile vaccinations sites. It hopes to have a drive-in vaccination centre in Athlone ready by the end of July, to make it more convenient for people to get vaccinated on the way home from work.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato thanked all of the City's staff who helped set up the centre. 

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