A recipe for disaster: Unions concerned over phase 2 of vaccine rollout plan

On Monday, eligible citizens 60 years and older will be allocated to a vaccine site close to their home to get their jab.

Several private sector frontline workers will also receive their vaccinations at Groote Schuur and Tygerberg hospitals this weekend. Picture: Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Unions have on Wednesday raised concerns ahead of the rollout of the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccine programme, with nursing staff anticipating a disaster while questioning if the sector was prepared.

On Monday, eligible citizens 60 years and older will be allocated to a vaccine site close to their home to get their jab.

About 70% of South Africa's 1.5 million healthcare workers that government aims to vaccinate have not yet received their jabs and yet they will have to give the elderly their COVID-19 injections come Monday.

“It’s going to be a disaster; we are anticipating a disaster. But when there are elections it appears, we are more prepared for that.” Lerato Mthunzi is the president of the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union.

She is concerned about the logistics around Monday's rollout of the second phase of the vaccine programme with the elderly expected to queue in the cold weather.

“It’s now cold and some will be falling down because of mere hunger. We are expecting them to be subjected to the queuing when they collect their chronic medication, which really strips away their dignity.”

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Denosa's president Simon Hlungwani shares the same concern.

He's also warned of technological issues on government's website, he said many healthcare workers were still waiting for their confirmation ticket with the date and time for their vaccination.

“Some would wait for the ticket and it doesn’t come through, which is creating a backlog and is going to create more problems for the other population that is going to be vaccinated.”

There are many concerns about the logistics and whether government has an adequate plan in place to deal with any potential stumble blocks.

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