WC govt confident systems in place and ready for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The vaccines will be rolled out in three separate phases and will start with healthcare workers.

At a massive facility in the Cape Town CBD, various COVID-19 vaccines are stored on shelves in boxes on 4 February 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government said that it anticipated the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine in the province within the next 5 to 10 days.

The provincial Health Department said that it had prepared its systems to ensure that everything was in place for an effective and efficient rollout.

The vaccines will be rolled out in three separate phases and will start with healthcare workers.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo visited the Cape Medical Depot on Thursday to assess the state of readiness to store and distribute vaccines.

The Western Cape will only have one storage and distribution facility - that's the Cape Medical Depot.

When the vaccines arrive, they will be stored in the cold chain area, in fridges.

Once orders are received, the vaccines are put into smaller containers and then eventually handed over to the couriers.

The department's Mary-Ann Davies said that there was a system in place to indicate who had had a dose and when people were due for the next one.

"People will be given a vaccination card and we will write on their which dose they got and obviously they will be given an appointment. Then there's the Electronic Vaccine Data System."

And to ensure the vaccines are safe, there's tight security at this facility and during the transportation process as director of Pharmacy Services, Kim Lowenherz, explains: "The dedicated cold chain space is biometric access only to the people who work there. Once it leaves the depot, it leaves in unmarked vans, they are monitored by satellite monitoring all the way."

The Western Cape will receive 35,000 doses to begin with for public sector healthcare workers and more than 58,000 for their colleagues in the private sector.

"The couriers are in place, the cold chain is in place to distribute but the law enforcement and the South African Police Service are being briefed on safeguarding the vaccines from the moment they arrive in terms of the system of protecting and providing security," provincial head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete said.

Cloete explained that police and other law enforcement bodies would ensure that doses were kept safe.

Cloete added that the department had done an assessment of generators in various facilities and had portable generators on standby should load shedding return.

"We are expecting 93 vaccine-friendly fridges delivered during this week, a generator has been assessed, consumable have been assessed and in place, PPE adequate and vaccine cards and all of this will be dispatched from the CMD to the sites."

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