Healthcare workers at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, north of Pretoria, are now among the thousands of frontline workers vaccinated against Covid-19.
Nearly 18,000 healthcare workers across Gauteng have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine since the vaccination drive kicked off on 17 February.
The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, who also received the jab at George Mukhari Hospital. As he shared his experience, Phaahla encouraged reluctant healthcare workers and South Africans to get vaccinated.
“I must admit that I was very anxious….when you study a particular condition, including side-effects, they will tell you that it happens to one in a thousand, or one in a million but you don’t know whether you are one of the million,” said Phaahla.
Front-line workers prioritised
This vaccination site, attached to the Sefako Makgotho Health Sciences University, is the fourth site that the province has set up since the launch of the Sisonke Ensemble study. The study tests for the effectiveness of the Johnson amd Johnson vaccine, against the Covid-19 501Y.V2 variant, while protecting health care workers specifically.
After receiving the shot, Phaahla was taken to an observation area where he was further monitored for any reactions that he might have had towards the vaccine.
“I can assure you that it has been very pleasant and I am not expecting anything to change. But that doesn’t mean that we want to mislead people to say that everybody will react the same way, we all react differently, but we know that the vaccine is safe, it has been tested,” he said.
George Mukhari Intensive care unit (ICU) nurse, Dimakatso Mokoni, was among the first vaccinated.
“I feel fine but before, there was a bit of pain in my hand but right now I’m fine,” she said of her experience.
As a front-line worker, Mokoni said that she was anxious and excited at the prospect of getting the vaccine.
“It is very difficult because a lot of us are working with patients who have Covid-19 and it’s very hard,” said Mokoni.
Medical students to give the jab
About 50 to 60 healthcare workers are expected to get vaccinated at the site per day. The university, which has a partnership with the hospital, intends to add up to two thousands medical science students to work as vaccinators.
“Because we are a health sciences university, from second year the students are already trained in health sciences, they understand the issues of the virus, the vaccine and they are also trained on how to give injections, and how to manage situations like this,” said Professor Eunice Seekoe, the acting vice-chancellor at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.
Along with the site at George Mukhari hospital, there are also vaccination sites at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Netcare Milpark Private Hospital and Lenmed Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital.
The health ministry added these sites to supplement the existing ones at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
Officials have allocated 18,040 doses to Gauteng, which will be sent to facilities at both public and private hospitals, for the second round of vaccinations. —Health-e News