KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has officially unveiled the COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme in the province, which will see frontline healthcare workers get vaccinated with the newly acquired Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
This follows the launch of the country’s vaccination programme by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, in Cape Town, on Wednesday.
A total of 80 000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine arrived in South Africa on Tuesday evening.
Zikalala, who was accompanied by Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, received the first batch of the vaccine on Thursday, where healthcare workers were vaccinated at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban.
Speaking at the provincial vaccine rollout launch, Zikalala said the arrival of the vaccine in the province is an important step towards rebuilding lives.
“This vaccine is eagerly awaited in all parts of the provinces and if it was up to us, we would have administered it to all healthcare workers in the province on the same day so that they are all protected. For now, we have to make do with what we have,” Zikalala said.
The Premier urged healthcare workers to take the vaccine, ensuring them that government would never subject them to a vaccine that would be detrimental to their lives.
Simelane-Zulu said the province has laid the groundwork for the vaccine rollout.
“We have a continuous education programme and we are conducting webinars with all our stakeholders, including our traditional health practitioners.
“We had planned to vaccinate all healthcare workers within four days, but we had to revise the plan according to the amount of vaccines we get. The good thing about Johnson and Johnson vaccine is that it’s a once-off,” Simelane-Zulu said.
Unions welcome vaccine
Mlungisi Ndlovu, from the KwaZulu-Natal Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA), welcomed the arrival of the vaccine in the province.
“Our people in KZN and healthcare workers need the vaccine. We must speed up the process of vaccinating people before the third wave arrives in order to reduce deaths,” Ndlovu said.
Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) KZN Provincial Secretary, Mandla Shabangu, also welcomed the arrival of the vaccine and urged healthcare workers to vaccinate.
“With the arrival of the vaccine, our members are excited and enjoy coming to work. We want to fast-track how it is rolled out to other members.
“While we support the view that it’s not compulsory to vaccinate, we encourage our members to take the vaccine,” Shabangu said.