The Gauteng Department of Health says panic among healthcare workers that there might not be enough COVID-19 vaccines for all of them may have caused Sunday’s chaos at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

Hundreds of doctors and nurses from both the private and public sectors flocked to the hospital after receiving notifications to go to the facility for their inoculation over the weekend.

Many had to wait for hours in the sun before they were eventually vaccinated.

Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi has reassured healthcare workers in the province that none of them will be excluded from the national vaccination programme aimed at safeguarding the healthcare system in the province.

The Department of Health confirmed on Sunday that one-third of the 80 000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine received last week has been allocated to healthcare workers in the private sector.

The department also called on healthcare workers to be patient as it tries to overcome short-term challenges such as long waiting times.

Head of Communications at the Gauteng Department of Health, Motaletale Modiba has assured healthcare workers in the province that they all will be vaccinated.

“Since the commencement of the rollout of the vaccination programme on Wednesday, the demand to be vaccinated has been growing among healthcare workers in the province. Resulting in some of them flooding the Steve Biko Academic hospital [on Sunday] out of fear that the vaccine might run out before they get their inoculation. The MEC has sent the message to say that all healthcare workers in the province need not [to] panic as none of them will be left behind,” explains Modiba.

Dr Nisha Jacob reacts to COVID-19 vaccine rollout in SA: 

The nationwide vaccination programme was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize, with a Western Cape healthcare worker being the first person to have taken the vaccination on Wednesday.

SA’s long-awaited COVID-19 vaccination rollout kicks off in Khayelitsha:

Vaccine rollout in KZN

Meanwhile, in KwaZulu-Natal, Premier Sihle Zikalala says he is satisfied with the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for healthcare workers in the province.

Zikalala says since the rollout, 1 279 healthcare workers have been vaccinated with no complications reported.

“This is made up of 319 healthcare workers at Prince Msheyeni Hospital on the first day followed by 480 the next day and Inkosi Albert Luthuli central hospital, we had vaccinated 80 on the first day and 400 on the next day. These troops, who are our first line of defense against this virus have reported a renewed sense of positivity, confidence and a feeling more protected against COVID-19. This is a major psychological boost and a far cry from the fear and anxiety they have been experiencing while relying on non-pharmaceutical interventions.”

Zikalala also used the occasion to dispel allegations in media questioning the legitimacy and efficacy of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

He says those making unfounded statements are not only undermining the government’s work but are discouraging hopeful South Africans.

“We cannot have people discrediting the vaccine with no scientific basis when it comes to an effective answer to the virus. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority is unable to register and license the Johnson and Johnson vaccine before it is registered by the drug’s regulatory body in the United States of America. This process may take a few weeks which we cannot afford to wait for.” -Additional reporting by Taliesha Naidoo

Vaccine rollout in KZN proceeding well: