Western Cape continues with preparations to rollout vaccine the healthcare workers

The AstraZeneca/Covishield COVID-19 vaccine rollout may have been put on hold, but our preparations have not.  

The Western Cape Department of Health continues with its logistical planning for the phase one vaccine rollout. We need to make sure we are 100% ready to roll out the vaccine when it becomes available in the province. 

The Department has from the start relied on a science and data-led approach in responding to this devastating pandemic. The AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine initially showed good results, but new findings indicate it is less effective against the 501Y.V2 variant.  

As a responsible government, we know the mutation of COVID-19 means we must consistently adapt to an ever-changing situation – including ensuring we have a vaccine that offers protection against severe illness and death. 

Our healthcare workers’ safety has been, and continues to be, a top priority for the Department. We thank the scientists who made the breakthrough finding about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine against the 501Y.V2 variant. We need to be responsible, by being agile enough to adjust when required. 

The planned phase one rollout of the vaccine, focusing on healthcare workers, will continue with the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine in mid-February, which also released its results against the 501Y.V2 variant. This vaccine showed a 57% efficacy in South Africa but more importantly, it showed 85% efficacy in preventing severe disease and death due to COVID-19.  As part of our planning, we have identified almost 150 000 healthcare workers in the public and private sector to receive the vaccine. With planning continuing, we now await further information on the quantities of the J&J vaccine to be distributed to provinces as well as the expected arrival date of these vaccines. 

What progress have we made with our planning 

  • We have identified 378 public sector facilities and 41 private facilities where vaccination will take place. 
  • We have procured 93 vaccine friendly fridges, additional and will supplement our existing vaccine fridges 
  • We are procuring WHO Pre-Qualified cooler boxes and ice bricks 
  • We procured consumables including needles, swabs and cooler boxes 
  • We have assessed the generators in various facilities and have portable generators on standby  
  • 3 084 vaccinators have registered for training with 464 already completed 
  • We have produced vaccine cards for recipients 
  • The National Department has launched the Electronic Vaccination Data System registration portal 

Like the rest of South Africa, we are devastated at the news that Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rollout has been suspended but we see this as an opportunity to ensure our healthcare workers receive the best protection available. 

Until we have widespread vaccine coverage, it remains important that we all do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loves from Covid-19, by wearing masks, washing our hands, keeping our distance and avoiding crowded and confined spaces and close contact.