Nehawu welcomes procurement of 1.5 million vaccine doses for frontline workers

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Thursday announced the first 1 million doses would be delivered later this month from the Serum Institute of India, followed by an additional half a million doses in February.

Doctors conduct COVID-19 testing at a special needs facility in Cape Town. Picture: Masks For Medics/Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) has on Friday welcomed South Africa's procurement of 1.5 million doses of vaccines for frontline workers.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Thursday announced the first 1 million doses would be delivered later this month from the Serum Institute of India, followed by an additional half a million doses in February.

READ MORE: Mkhize announces SA to secure 1.5 million vaccine doses by end Feb

The second wave of COVID-19 is spreading faster than the first wave. Nearly 21,000 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours while there are more than 400 new fatalities.

ALSO READ: Hard work lies ahead with SA vaccine rollout, says SAHPRA

The union's Khaya Xaba said they would monitor the rollout process closely: “As Nehawu, we welcome the procurement of 1.5 million vaccines for frontline workers. We believe that this is a step in the right direction, and we wish government worked extra hard to get more vaccines. We will work hand in hand with government to ensure that the process of vaccinating healthcare workers runs smoothly.”

AMBITIOUS PLAN

The Health Ministry is sticking to its guns and detailing an ambitious plan to vaccinate 40 million people against COVID-19 in the next 12 months.

Mkhize said we needed to vaccinate between 67% and 70% of the population to break the cycle of transmission.

READ: Mkhize adamant COVID vaccination rollout plan achievable

Briefing MPs, Mkhize said they wanted to get that done in 12 months but immunising 40 million people in a year was no small task.

The department is planning on rolling out over 300,000 vaccinations a day.

Finding the staff to pull that off is a challenge in and of itself, even in the best-case scenario that every vaccinator can inoculate 50 people a day, a small army of 6,300 vaccinators will be needed.

So where will these people come from?

"From clinical associates, community service doctors and nurses, contract nurses who are involved in other programmes on vaccinations, etc," Mkhize said.

The department will also have to find teams of people in each province to ensure the vaccines are handled properly and that the cold chain integrity is maintained.

Additional reporting by Graig-Lee Smith.

WATCH: Mkhize details COVID vaccine rollout plan to Parliament

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