The first round of COVID-19 vaccinations for the rural areas of the Western Cape has begun at the George Hospital in the Garden Route.

Around 600 healthcare workers from the region will be vaccinated over the next two weeks.

The Garden Route was declared a hotspot area during the second wave of COVID-19.

The Garden Route District was the first area to be declared a coronavirus hotspot: 

The vaccine could not have come soon enough. The first dose was given to a man who has risked his life every day of this pandemic. EMS Sub-District Manager, Cedric Yantolo, says he can now better protect those around him.

“Normally, I’m a person that is afraid to take an injection, but I promised my staff members that I will be the first one in line to take this COVID vaccine. The reason for that is that I believe that I need to protect my family and also need to be protected and taking this vaccine I minimise the chances of getting infected.”

There were excitement and apprehension amongst the healthcare workers. ER24 Branch Manager, Charl Pretorius, says it has been a tough year for them.

“I’m excited, but also a bit nervous. You hear a lot of stories about the vaccine, but I’m excited. I think we need it and it’s a step in the right direction for us to curb and finally win this pandemic. There was a lot of emotional turmoil going through this year, knowing that every time they come to work, they are going to be exposed. There’s a chance they might take it home; their families might get exposed.”

The Garden Route received an initial 320 doses for the first week, with another batch arriving next week.

District Health Manager, Zee Brickles, says both public and private sector healthcare workers will be vaccinated together.

“It’s a completely voluntary process. They had to register on the electronic system, had to give consent to be part of the voluntary process and then we’ve scheduled them accordingly. So, we decided to schedule a few people today. Today, we started with fewer people, so we can do some troubleshooting as well as we can expect there’ll be a few issues, but I think people around are very excited.”

Healthcare workers from across the region will be making their way to the George Hospital over the next two weeks.

 Phase 1 rollout begins in Garden Route: