Hospitals ‘not ready’ for vaccine roll-out due to use of ancient filing systems

Healthcare workers receiving the first batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Picture: Michel Bega

‘The public sector is the weakest link in the roll-out and should partner with the private sector where there are deficiencies,’ says DA

Dozens of hospitals may not be ready to start vaccinating patients as soon as planned, politicians have suggested as patience wears thin for the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out to the general public to begin.

The Gauteng government has earmarked 224 public hospitals and clinics vaccination sites as well as 154 private facilities for vaccines. This was a good number of sites, said DA shadow health MEC Jack Bloom spokesperson, but it was important to rectify the historical system issues in those hospitals.

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“It is essential there is an efficient electronic vaccination system. Many of the small public clinics do not have good connectivity and functioning computers. It is also important that vaccines are delivered on time with the right quantity and stored in fridges. The public sector is the weakest link in the roll-out and should partner with the private sector where there are deficiencies,” Bloom said.

The alarm bells were set off at the weekend at Steve Biko Hospital in Tshwane after long queues and chaos mired the start of the roll-out to private sector healthcare workers.

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This was after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande raised concerns that hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal may not be ready for the vaccination roll-out as admin infrastructure is deficient.

Nzimande, who is part of the Ministerial Vaccination Committee, raised this issue after he visited Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, which had been identified as a vaccination site. He noted the hospital staff did not know when to expect to start receiving vaccine stock.

“The challenge facing the hospital is that it is still using a manual filing system, instead of electronic filing. This is not a challenge for the health department alone, the government as a whole is facing a similar challenge,” he said.

Simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

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