COSATU concerned about impact of potential COVID-19 third wave on rural communities

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Labour Federation COSATU has raised concern over the impact of a potential third wave of the coronavirus on rural communities. COSATU in the North West earlier handed over a memorandum of demands to Premier Job Mokgoro.

COSATU Provincial Secretary Kopano Konopi says among several issues raised is the need for government to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

“We understand that there is a challenge from national government in terms of providing sufficient vaccine doses to the province but we still believe that if the province can demand a higher portion for the province it can be delivered. There are many rural areas that are not going to get vaccines on time and if the third wave comes it will be devastating for the province.”

Meanwhile, Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has checked on the COVID-19 vaccination process at Letaba Hospital in the Mopani district. The Limpopo Department of Health resumed vaccinations last week after the Johnson and Johnson vaccines were halted amid safety concerns in the US and elsewhere following a tiny number of blood clot incidents.

Health experts say the vaccine is still considered very safe – with the benefits massively outweighing the very small risk. Twenty-five thousand healthcare workers were vaccinated before the suspension of the Johnson and Johnson Sisonke trial – which has now resumed. Ramathuba says they are making progress.

“We are trying to mop up, the last time we checked we checked we were at 25 000 health workers. The numbers have increased and will continue to increase. We are still a little bit far away from our targets. You will appreciate the suspension of the Johnson and Johnson [also had a set back] on us as a province because our health workers were also eagerly waiting to be vaccinated, but I can indicate to you that the whole of last week we have been busy.”

SAMRC to strengthen monitoring

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) says they have strengthened their vaccine safety monitoring in line with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) regulations.

The first batch of Pfizer’s vaccines arrived in South Africa on Sunday night.

More than 325 000 doses landed at OR Tambo International Airport and they were transported to a central warehouse under strict security measures.

SAMRC chair, Professor Glenda Gray, says people should report persistent side-effects after inoculation.

“We have increased our safety reporting to SAHPRA as well as training the staff at the site. We also lookout for any rare cutting disorders. These vaccines are very reactive genic whether Pfizer or the J&J. Obviously, we expect lot of side effects at the time of vaccination. ”

“But if people who take the vaccine, after day 4 if they have an unrelenting headache or unexplained rear abdominal pain they should contact the safety desk to report this,” explains Gray.