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COVID-19 vaccines arrive in SA

Written by Allison Cooper

South Africa’s fight against the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) took a big step forward with the arrival of one million AstraZeneca vaccines (Covishield), manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) recently. 

South Africa’s fight against the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) took a big step forward with the arrival of one million AstraZeneca vaccines (Covishield), manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) recently.

President Cyril Ramaphosa that received the vaccines at the OR Tambo International Airport.

“Now that the vaccines have arrived, they will be tested at the National Control Laboratory to confirm that their integrity has been maintained during transportation. After testing, they will be distributed across the country to thousands of our healthcare workers who every day put their own lives at risk to save others,” says President Ramaphosa.

The distribution of vaccines to healthcare workers is phase one of South Africa’s mass COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The National Department of Health will coordinate the vaccine rollout with provincial health departments and the private healthcare sector.

“Provincial health departments have submitted their distribution plans and we have identified about 200 facilities to which the vaccines can be distributed,” the President says.

No-one will pay for their vaccination. The cost will either be covered by a person’s medical aid or by the State.

President Ramaphosa says the vaccine will be available to all adults living in South Africa, regardless of their citizenship or residence status. 

While encouraging citizens to get vaccinated, he also stressed that no one will be forced to take the vaccine. “Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated. Nobody will be given this vaccine against their will, nor will the vaccine be administered in secret. Any rumours to this effect are both false and dangerous.”

How to access the vaccine?

The Department of Health has developed the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) to streamline the vaccine registration and rollout process. 

“This will allow us to capture all relevant data associated with the administration of the vaccine. The system allows a person to make an appointment as soon as they qualify for a vaccination, at the vaccine centre closest to them. The system will record vaccinations as they are administered,” President Ramaphosa explains.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize launched the EVDS recently and urged all active healthcare workers to register on the portal (https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za).