The expected third wave of Covid-19 infections will again strain the health system, leaving the question of who will then do the vaccine jabs.
More than 2,000 vaccination sites have been identified across the country as it gears up to roll out the long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine in May.
In his national address on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said vaccines would also be made available at doctors’ rooms, clinics and pharmacies and retail outlets.
At least 72,666 people a day are targeted to be vaccinated between 17 May and 31 July to total the projected 5,449,980 vaccine jabs given to those aged over 60 during the first part of the second phase, technical adviser to the health department Dr Aquina Thulare told the health portfolio committee this week.
But the country is expected to be in its third wave of infections at the time, leaving healthcare workers having to manage infections instead, said Stellenbosch University epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes.
Not only should the country secure vaccines, but will require other equipment such as medical trolleys, syringes, storage refrigerators and other required personal protective equipment to administer the vaccines.
“If we have a third wave, depending on how high it is, the healthcare workers are going to have to go to a great extent of having to look after people who are sick in the third wave. Who is going to do the vaccinations then, as doctors and medical persons are required on (vaccination) sites?” Barnes said
A further 12,900,160 people over the age of 40 with comorbidities or who work in high-risk settings are projected to be vaccinated in the second half of the second phase planned between August and October, Thulare said.
But Barnes doubts things will unfold as planned.
“Those are projections and they are still at this moment working on the plan. They haven’t published for the general public exactly how many vaccinations they are going to have, who is going to staff that and training those who will administer them as some will not be healthcare workers. I am very concerned about the lack of information they have shared with us. I share the doubt that what they have planned will unfold as they have told us.”
The EFF has accused the government of lying, saying there is no verified vaccination plan.
ALSO READ: READ IN FULL: Ramaphosa’s ‘family meeting’ address ahead of Easter
“Any promise of 40 million vaccinations or a second phase of vaccinations in May 2021 is a self-admitted lie by this government. We must as a nation take to the streets and demand vaccinations in defence of life and the future of this country,” EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.