WC govt pushing ahead with plans to procure own COVID-19 vaccines, says Winde

This was despite Health Minister Zweli Mkhize urging it not to.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize (C) with WC Premier Alan Winde (R) during a vaccine rollout facility inspection on Monday, 19 April 2021. Picture: Zweli Mkhize/ Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government is pushing ahead with plans to buy its own COVID-19 vaccines.

This despite Health Minister Zweli Mkhize urging it not to.

"There is no need for a province to try and secure their own vaccines, there'll never be a need for it, in fact, there's not even a need for contingency reserve to keep some back in case something goes wrong."

Earlier this week, Mkhize visited a vaccination site in Mitchells Plain. Government has centralised the massive endeavour which has been marred with problems.

However, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said that provincial health authorities were forging ahead.

"I'm not stopping the procurement team. It doesn't make good business sense to stop them right now, because it's about risk mitigation and understanding that if we fall short of a shipment or if we can get ahead of time, it will help us get to our own vaccinated herd immunity far quicker."

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Health Department said that it was still on track to rollout phase 2 of the vaccination programme.

To date, over 53,000 healthcare workers have been immunised in the province.

Cabinet has now given the Sisonke implementation study the go-ahead to administer jabs to medical workers after it was paused several days back.

The provincial Health Department said that it was preparing to scale up its vaccination programme this month to complete phase 1 for all healthcare workers.

It's anticipated that approximately 68% of healthcare workers will be covered with the limited doses from the Sisonke programme.

Head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, said that they were expecting the arrival of more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by early May.

"Another 42,000 that then needs to be vaccinated and that will be from the first batch of non-Sisonke arrivals expected in South Africa."

Cloete said that in the Western Cape, there were 720,000 people over 60 and that the department would like to vaccinate them between 17 May and the end of June.

"It might be 723,000 people in that age group over 60 and we need to make sure that as many of them as possible are registered on the EBDS."

He said that once the majority of this category was vaccinated, they would push to have the system opened to lower age bands.

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