Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha says the province is ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, and has established structures to oversee the process.
Mathabatha on Thursday said the province has been allocated 44 526 COVID-19 vaccine doses for the provincial Department of Health staff members.
Addressing the media in Polokwane, Mathabatha said the Technical Vaccinenical Working Group comprises representatives from various units at the Provincial Department of Health.
"It is already common knowledge that the vaccine will not be immediately available for everyone, therefore, a prioritisation system will be applied.
"It is important to note that, currently, pregnant women and children under the age of 18 years will be excluded from vaccination, since this group has not yet being studied for vaccine efficacy," Mathabatha said.
Priority will be given to those considered to be essential for societal functioning; those considered to be most at risk of infection and serious outcomes,above 60 years with comorbid conditions; those living in overcrowded settings and those who are most at risk of transmitting SARS Cov-2 to others.
To date, the province has identified 39 sites thay are ready to administer the vaccination process throughout the province.
"Our infrastructure systems and controls here in Limpopo are ready for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine," Mathabatha said.
Mathabatha said as part of the enrolment for the vaccine programme, all health workers in the province will complete an online registration.
"Coronavirus has so far destroyed economies and livelihoods. This invisible virus has caused more deaths in our communities, resulted in joblessness and negatively impacted all our livelihoods.
"Therefore, the vaccine, among others, is seen by all countries of the world as a positive measure towards the fight against Coronavirus," Mathabatha said.
He stressed that no person will be forced to vaccinate.
Limpopo will introduce the vaccine through a phased approach.
- Phase 1: Vaccination will be to all the frontline workers in both public and private health sectors.
- Phase 2: High risk groups including persons in congregate settings, person who are 60 years and older, persons who are above 18 years with co-morbidities, other essential workers including teachers, police, security, funeral parlour, retail food, banking sector, local government, government officials, miners, etc,
- Phase 3: Vaccination will be open to all the people in Limpopo.
Mathabatha called on people in the province to continue to avoid overcrowded areas including funerals, soccer tournaments, weddings, shebeens, taverns and other mass gatherings.
"Let us all continue to wear our face masks, practice social distancing, continue washing our hands with water and soap and sanitising.
"Our lives are more important than entertainment. Once a life is lost, is lost it can never be regained," the Premier said.