The Gatesville Civic Centre in Cape Town, the only remaining facility for the Sisonke Johnson & Johnson Vaccination Trial in the Western Cape, officially closed on Saturday.  

This follows the vaccination of about 20 000 frontline health workers since February this year.  

The Sisonke Trial vaccination centres are closing ahead of Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout programme, due to start on Monday.  

About 500 health workers braved the cold and wet weather in the Cape to be the last to be vaccinated at the facility.  

About 90 000 health workers have now been vaccinated in the Western Cape. 

Health authorities have hailed the programme a success. 

Provincial Health Minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo says: “We have to take and make use of lessons learnt from this Phase to use it for the Phase 2, which is starting on Monday, for the older persons; for example, where you have to phase in things sequentially, so that you don’t overload the system at one go. So, that’s why for the Phase 2, we are starting in the metro and then for the second week, we do the rural areas.” 

The trial has also been viewed as a successful example of public and private sector partnership.  

Our mandate has been to vaccinate health workers using the J&J vaccine to try and ensure that we protect healthcare workers in front of a potential third wave. So, we have been doing this since the 17th of February. So, this Gatesville Civic Centre has been one of the vaccination centres,” Sisonke Trial Co-director, Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, says. 

Authorities are again calling on family members, especially the youth, to assist elderly people with online registration for vaccinations. 

Few have registered for the nearly 40 000 injections from Pfizer.  

MEC Mbombo says: “One must register first before you can be able to be vaccinated. So, you use WhatsApp or go to the any of the devices that you can be able to register. There’s concern that very few people have been registered – only 29% out of the 720 000 that have been registered.”  

Those that have come out to register say it’s the only way to be safe.  

“I think, for me, it’s a phenomenal experience for all the challenges that we have been through in this COVID pandemic. I think that it is wonderful that we the healthcare workers are coming out to be vaccinated,” says Nasiba Salie, who is a nurse.

Clinical Risk Analyst, Phindi Ndubelasays: “I am trying to prevent something that has been out of control – the pandemic that we are living under and given this opportunity to come and vaccinate, I could not let that chance go by.” 

Health authorities say it is all systems go for the second phase of vaccinations. 

South Africa has recorded 3 141 new coronavirus infections in the last 24-hour cycle, taking the total number to 1 608 393.

The country also reported 112 new COVID-19-related fatalities on Friday, pushing the death toll to 55 124.

In a statement, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says most of the new deaths were recorded in the Free State.

The number of healthcare workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol to date is 474 318.