Registration for the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme has officially been launched in the North West province.

Provincial Health MEC Madoda Sambatha launched the online registration system in Lichtenburg on Wednesday.

Senior citizens, those with comorbidities and essential services employees were encouraged to register.

Those aged 60 and above, and those aged 18 and above, with chronic conditions like Diabetes, HIV/AIDS and Hypertension will be prioritised during the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Their inoculations are set to start on 17 May 2021 and run until the end of October 2021.

North West Health MEC Madoda Sambatha says existing healthcare centres will be used in the rollout programme so that communities can have easy access to the vaccines.

“We must go to where our people are, register them, vaccinate them. That’s why there is now decentralization of vaccination sites for your community health centres. Clinics in those areas are going to be vaccination sites, so people are not going to be vaccinated only in Mahikeng provincial hospital,” says Sambatha.

Vaccination researcher, Dr John Tumbo says essential workers are people who deal with members of the public.

He cites political and tribal leaders, members of the media, police officers and teachers as essential workers.

He says so far, the vaccine rollout programme is on par with their expectations.

“We are hoping that February next year we will be done with the entire vaccination programme … and we are not saying 2.7 million. We want to vaccinate more than 2.7 million, so that then we protect the entire population of the North West province for us to be able to do that we have strategies, which will then improve our access to bring these service close to communities.”

The SABC spoke to residents who have registered for the vaccine.

“I am happy that I have already registered so that I am safe from the virus and live a healthy life because this virus is killing people and all that is needed is a vaccine,” notes one resident.

“We are happy that we are on Phase 2. It shows that our government cares. So, I will avail myself for registration,” says another resident.

“I have already registered for COVID-19 vaccination and I feel happy because, for me, the vaccine will reduce the infection rate and that can save not only us, but also our loved ones,” a resident said.

Approximately 18 000 of the 43 000 healthcare professionals in the North West have already been vaccinated.

Their inoculation is expected to be completed by mid-May 2021. Thereafter, the elderly and vulnerable groups will be given with inoculation.