Claims of unfair administration of COVID jabs cause stir amongst health workers

As the Sisonke vaccine trial nears the end, many who had already registered were still waiting to get their jabs, and there were more claims of those with access slotting in their families and friends who do not as yet qualify to get vaccinated.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG – A lack of communication leading to the unfair administration of COVID-19 vaccines has caused consternation among healthcare workers as the Sisonke Programme nears the end.

This programme, which is part of an implementation study, has seen the rollout of Johnson & Johnson vaccines for a few weeks now, but delays, people being turned away, and a seemingly challenging booking system proved to be a headache for all involved in the process.

Many who had already registered were still waiting to get their jabs, and there were more claims of those with access slotting in their families and friends who do not as yet qualify to get vaccinated.

Eyewitness News spoke to some people who were unhappy with the unfolding events.

A man who did not want his identity revealed is a psychologist at a health facility, and he registered to get his vaccine two months ago, but he still had not been allocated a time slot.

But his colleagues who work as administrators and marketers had received their jabs already.

“It's frustrating. I do believe there is a moral contest there as well. How do they get access first over and above us?”

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Meanwhile, a woman who has been working at one of the Sisonke trial sites said she saw first-hand how doctors had pushed for their family members to be vaccinated along with healthcare workers.

“We turned away a large number of healthcare workers because we ran out of vaccines. These doctors’ family members are not healthcare workers, they are not involved in seeing patients at all.”

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At the same time, there are those with comorbidities working in health facilities who were still waiting for their jabs.

The son of a 59-year-old living with diabetes said his mother registered two months ago.

“It just proves just how unfair this process is. You have someone here who is 59 and diabetic, who commutes between work every day and potentially works with people that might be infected.”

The Sisonke trial comes to an end on Saturday, and organisers have confirmed they had to finish all the imported Johnson & Johnson stock by then.

Health workers who do not make the cut would still be allowed access to the jabs from next week, alongside the over 60s, as part of the new phase of vaccinations.

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