Both the Eastern Cape and Western Cape have briefed Parliament’s Health Committee on their strategies to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine. This as the country is preparing to receive the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of this month and February.

The two provinces were briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health on the challenges related to COVID 19, and their preparedness to administer the vaccines

Priority will be given to health workers. The Eastern Cape says it is anticipating to vaccinate approximately 3.7 million people spread over three phases.

It says the first phase will be health workers followed by other frontline workers in different categories those above 60 years and above 18 years with comorbidities.

“We estimate that the province will need to vaccinate approximately 3.7 million people that are above the age of 18 and for the first phase where we are working mostly at this point. We estimate that we will have 200 000 health workers and related workers in the province, those who are support staff but have contact with our patients,” says Acting HOD, Dr. Sibongile Zulu.

Western Cape, Eastern Cape unveil plans to roll out vaccines: 

‘Vaccine confidence’ 

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Health authorities say they have not yet been informed about the number of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be allocated to the province.

The Western Cape is going to embark on a mass social mobilisation for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Provincial HOD, Doctor Keith Cloete says they want to build vaccine confidence as well as address medical, religious and cultural concerns. He says only scientists can determine if the vaccine is effective.

“The only people that can pronounce on that are the scientists in our country and there is a group of scientists currently looking at this and they will tell us the effectiveness of the current vaccine against the new variant, that we have and we are expecting that pronouncement very soon.”

Minister Zweli Mkhize explains the national vaccine roll-out strategy: 

Initiates in Eastern Cape

In another development, the Eastern Cape Health Department says no initiates have died due to COVID-19 during the summer initiation period. However, more than 400 initiates tested positive for the virus.

Zulu says 13 initiates and one Ingcibi died this season, three of them from gunshot wounds.

“456 of the initiates tested positive and the risk-adjusted strategy was implemented. There were isolation provisions and there were monitors from the Department of Health that were monitoring isolation and we must report that we had no incident of death related to COVID-19 or an admission related to COVID among the initiates. There were 23 admissions from dehydration and other things.”

Some members of the committee expressed concern about the challenges of the availability of oxygen and beds.