The Gauteng province’s vaccination programme is now underway, with Health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, being the first healthcare worker to receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Accompanied by Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Mokgethi received the vaccine at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.
The vaccine, which has been approved by the South African Health Products Authority, arrived at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Gauteng on Tuesday night.
The vaccination programme is led by the South African Medical Research Council and will benefit about 16 000 health workers over the next two weeks.
“Our departments are dealing with the logistics of ensuring the facilities on the ground are ready for vaccination. We just want to get the doses that are relevant to us and get those doses to the appropriate people.
“The critical thing is that it is better for procurement to be dealt with in one place, so the risk is reduced. I am happy that the National Department of Health is dealing with the vaccine procurement,” Makhura said.
The Premier emphasized the importance of preventing corruption during the distribution of the vaccine.
“Preventing corruption is something that we must ensure. We must put in place measures [to prevent it]. The vaccines must get to the relevant people and that is why the system is so tight. Everybody that is going to get the vaccine must register.
“…When the time comes for all of us to register for the next phases of the vaccine rollout, we will be able to do so,” Makhura said.
Frontline health care workers are prioritised for the first phase of vaccination.
The country’s vaccination programme got underway in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape today, where President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, were among the first to get the vaccine, along with health care workers.
The first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being prepared for distribution across South Africa with immediate effect.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown in extensive trials to be safe and efficacious, and will protect health care workers from illness and death from COVID-19.