Nehawu wants more Covid-19 vaccine doses for Mpumalanga healthcare workers

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  • Nehawu in Mpumalanga wants the provincial government to allocate more Covid-19 doses for healthcare workers.
  • The union had a meeting with the health department and premier over the vaccine rollout programme.
  • The health department says it cannot go beyond the allocated doses until the national government provides more.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) in Mpumalanga has called on the provincial government to allocate more Covid-19 vaccine doses for healthcare workers, saying the current number was not enough.

Provincial Nehawu secretary Welcome Mnisi told News24 that there were more than 30 healthcare facilities with over 30 000 healthcare workers in the province.

He said the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine doses allocated to the province by the national government would not alleviate the bad situation faced by the healthcare workers.

"We had a meeting with the health department and the premier [Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane] two weeks ago about the vaccine rollout programme," said Mnisi.

"We said to them, this vaccine is not enough. Our view is that the government must bring more. More than 20 000 healthcare workers in the public sector have applied for the vaccine. It’s not only the health department’s workers who need the vaccine. We have many other healthcare workers in education and social development departments who also want it."

The provincial department had to date lost more than 20 000 healthcare workers to Covid-19-related complications, added Mnisi.

Nehawu was happy to note that many healthcare workers appreciated having vaccines in the province.

He said the union was anticipating an increase in the number of doses of vaccine to be allocated to the health sector by the government in the near future.

Department spokesperson Dumisani Malamule, told News24 that vaccine doses were allocated in line with the directive of the national government. He said 2 000 doses of vaccines were allocated to the Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela, while Witbank Hospital in eMalahleni had received 1 640 doses last month.

"We cannot go beyond that number until the national government says there are more doses," said Malamule.

"We cannot say we need more vaccine doses. We can only make sure that the allocated vaccine doses are given to the relevant people. Most of our healthcare workers have been infected with Covid-19 and a huge number of them have died, but I cannot give the figures. We always hold meetings with Nehawu, but I don’t want to confirm or deny that the issue [of the alleged vaccine shortage] was raised in one of our meetings."

According to Malamule, Rob Ferreira Hospital and Witbank Hospital were the only health facilities in Mpumalanga that had received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine doses last month. He said the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the province had not faced any problems since it started last month.

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