The Northern Cape is preparing for its first batch of vaccines, due to be dispatched this weekend. Earlier this week, Premier Zamani Saul said 14 000 AstraZeneca vaccines had been allocated for healthcare workers in the province.

The inoculation process is set to start in Kimberley on Wednesday.

According to officials, over 2 000 nurses have been trained to administer the vaccine. The goal is to have over 900 000 provincial residents vaccinated by the end of 2021.

Premier Saul outlines the provincial vaccine roll-out plan:

“Now that the vaccine is in the country, the national plan is that this will be delivered to the provinces between the 7th and the 9th of February and the actual vaccination of healthcare workers will start on the 10th of February. Our target is to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of 2021, and 67% in the province roughly about 900 000 people that must be vaccinated by the end of the year,” says Premier Saul.

Province not adequately prepared

However, the DA says the provincial department is not prepared adequately. DA member of Provincial Legislature, Herold McGluwa, says proper storage of the vaccine remains a concern.

“Proper storage of vaccine also remains a concern given the poor delivery of PPE. The Auditor-General further found that adequate security was also not in place. We can only hope the department will this time put proper measures in place to prevent a repeat of such a disorder,” McGluwa says.

Fear of being forgotten

Meanwhile, those living on the streets fear that they will be forgotten once the second and third phases of the roll-out start.

“Living in the streets is very hard; I don’t have a mask, we have no sanitisers and now with the vaccine coming, we are obviously going to be left out. We worried about COVID-19,” says one person living on the streets.

“We don’t have the money to buy ourselves masks; with the sanitiser at least we get it at the shops. We know that COVID-19 is dangerous and kills and would also like to appeal to government to consider us when they start vaccinating others later this year,” says another person living on the streets.

Healthcare workers at Robert Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley will be the first to be inoculated.

The first phase of the roll-out will continue into March.