Electronic registration system for the Covid-19 vaccine tightened amid fraud claims

Officials say they understand the public's frustration with the slow pace of vaccinations. (RF Studio/Pexels)
Written by Marcia Zali

Reports of fraudulent vaccinations has led to tighter measures around the Electronic Vaccination Data System. Doctors in private practice are accused of registering their employees and family members to receive the Covid-19 vaccine during the country’s first phase of the national rollout.

Officials are tightening up the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) after allegations that private health workers skipped the line for the Covid-19 vaccine.

The EVDS was introduced to monitor the vaccination of health workers in the first phase of the national vaccine rollout. However, reports have emerged that some private healthcare doctors were registering their employees and relatives who were not eligible for vaccination.

The CEO of the Netcare group Dr Richard Freidland said they were aware of fraudulent vaccination by some private practitioners. He measures have been put in place to  prevent similar acts.

“When you come in here, we check exactly who you are, you have to produce an ID, you have to be on the system, you get a tag, and hopefully, we will eradicate that,” he said, speaking to journalists at a media briefing at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. The hospital is one of 13 private facilities that will serve as vaccination sites around the country.

Closing loopholes

A step in the registration system that people were able to bypass has also been removed, further tightening the system against any manipulation by fraudsters, said MEC for health in Gauteng Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi.

“Before you get vaccinated, you must be able to produce your voucher, and then we are able to check you on the system,” she said. “If you are not on the system, you are not going to get vaccinated.”

Mokgethi and the Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited Netcare Milpark Hospital’s recently launched Covid-19 vaccination site.

They encouraged healthcare workers to register on the EVDS not only to prevent fraud but also to allow the ministry to monitor those who had received the vaccine. This would also help record any side-effects or adverse reactions to the vaccine. Healthcare workers are participating in a Johnson and Johnson vaccine implementation study.

Partnering with the private sector

Netcare Milpark Hospital is one of two private vaccination sites in Gauteng. The site has already seen the vaccination of  over 3,900 healthcare workers.

Through a partnership between the private sector and the government, healthcare workers from Helen Joseph Hospital were among those inoculated at Netcare Milpark Hospital.

More than 31,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated across Gauteng.

Gauteng recently received over 18,040 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Officials expect these doses will be completed by Friday.

“Gauteng is ready for the next batch of vaccines that will arrive next week, but by tomorrow, all our sites would have completed whatever is allocated to them,” said Makhura said on the Thursday walkabout.

The national government handles the procurement of vaccines, and the arrival of more vaccines in April is highly anticipated.

“We can’t wait for the vaccines to get to the masses,” said Makhura. “When the healthcare workers are safe, it is good for the healthcare system…, but ethically, priority needs to go to the elder people and those who already have comorbidities, who are at great risk.”

The third wave of Covid-19 is expected to hit the country in the winter months. To prepare, Gauteng  extended the contracts of healthcare workers employed at the beginning of the pandemic. The province also plans to hire a further 1,060 healthcare workers to manage the extra beds and units added to the Gauteng’s hospitals.– Health-e News

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Marcia Zali