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Health dept ‘ahead of target’ in vaccine rollout for healthcare workers

The health department released a statement shortly after the arrival of the second batch of the J&J vaccine, saying it was ahead of its vaccination targets with more than 63,000 frontline healthcare workers receiving their jab in the past 10 days.

A South African healthcare worker receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG – The Health Department has said it was very happy with the progress made on vaccinating healthcare workers.

It released a statement on Saturday, shortly after another 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine touched down at OR Tambo International Airport.

The vaccine will be dispatched to vaccination sites across the country.

The department said it was ahead of its vaccination targets with more than 63,000 frontline healthcare workers receiving their jab in the past 10 days.

The latest batch of vaccines arrived in the country from Belgium in what is expected to become a regular two-weekly delivery.

These vaccines were being rolled out as part of an implementation study which is an extension of the study that showed the vaccine was effective against the South African variant of COVID-19.

WATCH: National vaccine rollout gets underway

Government has said from the get-go that it would be looking to several vaccine manufacturers and has already secured millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

READ: 20 Million COVID vaccine doses to arrive from march – Ntshaveni

Head of the Ministerial Advisory Council on vaccines Professor Barry Schoub said there was still work to be done in determining just how effective other vaccines are against the variant found in South Africa.

“Pfizer hasn’t been trialled yet against our variant, so we have to wait and see. We are pretty confident that it will work as well, but we don’t have that data.”

In his state of the nation address earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the first batch of the Pfizer vaccines would and in the middle of this year.

GAUTENG PREPARES TO EXPAND VACCINATION SITES IN SECOND PHASE OF ROLLOUT

At the same time, the Gauteng government said it was looking forward to receiving the next batch of COVID-19 vaccines.

The province has finished administering the first batch of jabs that had been availed to it by the national health department.

Of the more than 215,000 health care workers in Gauteng, 16,800 had received their vaccination.

On Friday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited the Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto to monitor the vaccination programme.

He said great lessons had been learned, and the first phase of the rollout went well.

"I must congratulate the Medical Research Council because they have done tremendous work."

Makhura said as they expect additional doses, the next phase will be expanded to other facilities, including the Helen Joseph Hospital.

"We are expanding capacity next week; it will include George Mukhari, Milpark will be operating from next week Wednesday together with some of our other hospitals."

The premier said health workers had set a very good example by accepting the vaccine.

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