The Mpumalanga provincial government has launched the first phase of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela. Head of the Department of Health in the province was the first senior government official to be vaccinated.

The Medical Health Research Council identified two hospitals for the first batch of the vaccine because of the number of healthcare workers affected.

The Mpumalanga province has received more than 3 600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

More than 700 healthcare workers are expected to be vaccinated. Two public hospitals, Rob Ferreira and Witbank in Emalahleni will be the distribution centres for the vaccine.

Mpumalanga province has recorded more than 69 000 cases. Dr. Rimone Stuurman is among the first health workers to receive the vaccine.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the early stages of the pandemic.

“Getting this vaccine relieves that stress and fear out of me and protects those around me. To the others I say, think about it, think about your family, your health; do your research about the vaccine, but definitely get it because this pandemic is not only about you as an individual but those around you. Protect them.”

A speech therapist Dr. Jeshika Moodley who was also diagnosed with COVID-19 in July last year, expressed satisfaction with the vaccine.

“When the vaccine rollout was announced, it was very exciting, especially when it was coming to South Africa, and we were looking forward to it. I registered as soon as possible.”

The province has lost 41 healthcare workers to the pandemic.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane says the rollout of the vaccine will be done in phases, starting with healthcare officials as they are frontline workers.

“And we are saying as politicians, we need to sit back, allow them the opportunity. On a daily basis, they are exposed to this virus, which can have a detrimental effect to their life. They have been steering the ship against all odds, therefore, it would be unfair  of us to put ourselves first.”

Mtshweni-Tsipane says 500 healthcare workers are expected to be vaccinated today: 

The government has requested the police to safeguard the vaccine from criminals.