The Eastern Cape government is intensifying its vaccination rollout plan with the opening of the ninth vaccination site in the province at the Cecilia Makhiwane Hospital in Mdantsane. The site is opening amid fears of a looming third wave.

More than 20 000 Eastern Cape healthcare workers have been vaccinated, but concerns about the slow pace of the rollout and the high demand versus the available doses have been raised.

Cecilia Makhiwane is the third vaccination site in the Buffalo City Metro, a former COVID-19 hotspot in the Eastern Cape. Cecilia Makiwane is also one of three referral hospitals in the province.

Eastern Cape intensifies vaccination rollout: 

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane says the province had a limited number of COVID-19 doses.

“We had a limited number of doses, but we work with what we have from national. If we could have more dozes, I think we would have covered a lot. The only thing we are trying to do is to make sure that we inoculate as many people as possible before the third wave starts. If the third wave starts, we’re likely to face more challenges.”

Provincial Health MEC Makhosazana Meth says they are expanding the vaccination programme.

“We have surpassed now 20 000 of our healthcare workers in terms of the vaccination and we are readying ourselves because already we had eight sites in the province. We are starting now to expand hence the ninth site we are opening today.”

Vaccine rollout in the Eastern Cape:

The health care workers that have been vaccinated are thrilled.

“It’s good that I was vaccinated today so that I stay negative. I already tested for COVID-19 twice and found that I have negative antibodies. Before I got vaccinated, I was anxious,” says health worker Nomthandazo Mhlakela.

“I am excited to have been vaccinated I am one of the first to be vaccinated in this hospital it will help me perform my duties with confidence,” health worker Siphiwo Mfengu.

The health department also unveiled a fleet of 50 ambulances to augment the current fleet to strengthen its capacity.