By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday night during a webinar on vaccine inoculation, that AstraZeneca's 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses will leave India, from the Serum Institute of India, on Sunday.
The plane carrying SA's first batch of Covid-19 vaccines will leave India on January 31, via Dubai, and arrive the following day at a time that has not yet been confirmed.
This announcement follows the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority confirming that the AstraZeneca vaccine had been approved for emergency use in the country.
Once the batches have arrived, the packages will undergo quarantine and quality assurance protocols for a period of between 10 to 14 days. Mkhize said this was crucial and in line with protocol to ensure the products received were of quality standard and above board. The vaccine doses will then be distributed to all provinces for healthcare professionals to access.
"We are now ready to move ahead with the vaccine and inoculation phase," Mkhize said.
The minister said phase one of inoculation would focus on healthcare workers, both in the private and public sector.
Meanwhile the department of health will employ the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) in the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines across the country.
Milani Wolmarans, who is chief director responsible for NHI information systems at the national Department of Health, says the system will enable an effective and efficient roll-out programme.
EVDS is a data-capturing system that will allow us to capture all the relevant data that is associated with the relevance of the vaccine. Its a data-secure platform that has been built with an enterprise architecture that complies with national and international security standards. The system will enable the process to be effective and efficient, "she said.
In her explanation on how the system works, Wolmarans said, “Health workers will have to be enrolled for the vaccination, via this system that is linked to an electronic online application system.”
"The second step is that the health worker that has enrolled in the platform will be receiving a message that says where and when they can go and receive the vaccine. They will also receive an SMS which will have a vaccination code. Once vaccinated, (they) will get a vaccination certificate. Healthcare workers (HCW) will be advised through social media once the system is live, "she said.
Among other features, the EVDS will provide and track vaccine information, such as:
Patient information, including demographics and number of doses;
Safety information – such as possible adverse events following immunisation;
Details of vaccine administration sites.
As part of this monitoring system, there are plans to send reminders for a follow-up appointment to receive a second dose and to include an integrated track-and-trace system for defaulters – those who do not show up to receive their second shot.