Nursing union welcomes decision to temporarily halt AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

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An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of AstraZeneca.
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of AstraZeneca.
Justin Tallis/AFP
  • Unions Denosa and Nehawu have welcomed the decision to place the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on hold.
  • This comes after the latest data shows that it gives minimum protection against mild to moderate infection caused by the country's dominant variant, 501Y.V2.
  • Nehawu has called on government to explore more vaccine options.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) has welcomed the decision to temporarily place the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on hold.

"Denosa notes the placing of the Astra-Zeneca roll-out on hold in view of the latest scientific data showing the vaccine gives minimum protection against mild-to-moderate infection caused by the country’s dominant variant.

"While we welcome the move to put the rollout plan of the vaccine on hold, we hope the process of accelerating the procurement and roll-out of J&J and Pfizer vaccines and the approval of these by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will be expedited," the union said on Monday.

READ | SIU PPE probe reveals 'flagrant disregard of law'

This comes after South Africa has temporarily delayed the roll-out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in South Africa after trial data showed that it is less effective against the more common Covid-19 501Y.V2 variant in the country.

News24 earlier reported that, following the release of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial data earlier in the day, that Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the vaccine will not be rolled-out until it gets clear approval from scientists.

EXPLAINED | What you need to know about the postponement of SA's vaccination plans

The union says that its main concern was the safety of both healthcare workers and community members and it acknowledged the superior scientific guidance that the government is getting and acting on.

While the process of securing the two other vaccines was underway, the union demanded maximum protection for healthcare workers as called for by Occupational Health and Safety Act.

"Government and all other employers are still responsible for the safety of employees in the workplace, and there’s a need to improve drastically from how it has done so far.

"We hope that, in future, the efficacy of the vaccine will be confirmed in the country before purchasing," the union concluded.

Transparency 

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) noted the decision and said it appreciated the transparency in the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccination programme.

The union however called on the Department of Health to try and simplify the information it communicates and ensure that it was available in all 11 official languages as well as sign language.

It called for more research.

"The national union reiterates its call for government to widen its net in searching for more vaccine options. We call on government to consider the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine which published impressive phase 3 findings in the Lancet medical journal last week.

"The Sputnik V viral vector vaccine achieved efficacy of 91.6% in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in a large phase 3 clinical trial," the union said adding that the government must also consider vaccines from the Finlay Vaccine Institute from the Republic of Cuba and not only confine their search to Western and European manufacturers."


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