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PRETORIA-On Monday, the DA in Gauteng said the health care workers’ vaccination degenerated into chaos as crowds moved on Sunday to get the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. “It is deeply disappointing that this past Sunday the vaccination of health workers degenerated into chaos as hundreds queued at the Steve Biko Hospital for hours, and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital did not even open up for vaccinations.

“At Steve Biko Hospital, there was confusion and unsafe crowding as more than 1 000 nurses and doctors queued there yesterday (Sunday) after receiving messages that they had been registered to receive the vaccine,” said Jack Bloom, the DA’s health spokesperson in Gauteng. He said that 16,800 Johnson & Johnson doses had been given to Gauteng, but these were only given in the two public hospitals.

It is inexcusable that, despite previous assurances in this respect, no vaccinations were carried out at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on Sunday. In rolling out the vaccine as soon as possible, every day is precious. It also seems that priority has not always been granted to those health workers who deal directly with patients with Covid-19 instead of other medical fields, Bloom said.

‘This weekend’s vaccination debacle highlights the urgent need for more places to roll out the vaccine, including the private health sector. For thousands of health employees, it is not feasible to take time off from their busy hospitals during the week to go to only two vaccination sites in the province. The DA said it hoped that the “teething problems” with the roll-out of the vaccine would soon be overcome and that some options would be made available to support health workers who work in the most risky positions.++

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Meanwhile, Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi said the Steve Biko Academic Hospital was “flooded” by health care staff on Sunday as demand for the vaccine had risen significantly. She said the health professionals worried that before they got their jabs, the vaccine would run out. “As vaccine doses are delivered to the province, all our facilities in the province will be covered.” Of the 16,800 Johnson & Johnson doses obtained by Gauteng, she said, 11,080 would be administered at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, while 5,720 doses would be administered at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

As of Saturday, 20 February, 2,134 health workers, including organized labor leadership and health practitioners, have been vaccinated. The dedication displayed by health-care staff and organized labour inspires us. The demand to get vaccinated has been growing since this programme started,” said Mokgethi. “As we are all aware that the struggle against Covid-19 is far from over and requires collective effort, we will continue to engage other stakeholders.” She said that the implementation report led by the South African Medical Research Council and the National Department of Health included the vaccine roll-out.

The Gauteng vaccination drive will be implemented in three phases, with phase one starting with front-line health care workers, phase two focusing on the vaccination of essential workers, people in community settings, people over 60 years of age and people over 18 years of age with co-morbidities, and phase three focusing on people over 18 years of age. Mokgethi called on health care staff in Gauteng to do so, who have yet to register on the platform of the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS).

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