There’s more good news on the vaccination front for South Africa: People aged between 35 and 49 can now register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when the roll-out gets underway on 1 August.

The riots that ravaged parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have had some impact on the health system and vaccination roll-out, but the department says they are forging ahead with the programme.

“… the recent violent protests have impacted the vaccination rollout and also disrupted access to essential healthcare services including collection of chronic medication by TB, HIV, Diabetes and other patients in some districts and areas in both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” said the department’s spokesperson Popo Maja.

“Government and the private sector’s priority is to protect lives, and prevent harm to staff, patients and the medical supplies and property that form part of the vaccination programme”

Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja

A number of vaccination programmes are underway, including for the elderly and those older than 50. The education sector recently wrapped up its vaccination drive for staff, which saw over 500 000 people being jabbed.

KZN, Gauteng riots have impacted vaccination sites

While the vaccine programmes are still underway, the National Department of Health says some of the vaccination sites which may have been destroyed in the ongoing protests or are at risk, will be closed on a temporary basis.

The department says anyone who had been scheduled to be vaccinated at sites in districts or areas that are affected by the unrest should defer their vaccination. It adds that the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) will automatically reschedule appointments for those who will be unable to attend (it is programmed to reschedule up to two missed appointments)

“If it is not clear whether an area has been affected, the public is advised to contact the vaccination site to which they have been scheduled before proceeding to the site for the administration of vaccines. The Department will publicise a list of affected areas and sites as soon as it is available,”

The department further acknowledged that the fact pharmacies and medical centres have been looted in the chaos and urged members to not purchase any medicines offered for sale by anyone other than registered medical practitioners, pharmacies or hospitals.

“Stolen or improperly dispensed medicines are extremely dangerous as they may not have been stored properly, may be contaminated, or may cause dangerous side effects. The Department is working closely with other departments in the security cluster and private sector to ensure that access to healthcare services and operations at vaccination sites are restored”

Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja

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Presh JM Reporter

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