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EC health official in hot water over closure of vaccination centre

Written by Max Matavire

A senior Eastern Cape health official is facing disciplinary action for ordering the closure of a COVID-19 vaccination centre leading to many elderly people being turned away.

The vaccination centre, Mbekweni Community Health Centre near Mthata, was shut mid-June when a number of nurses were unable to produce hard copy versions of their competency certificates.

Nursing union, Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA (Denosa), is also being blamed for causing confusion surrounding the closure of the centre and has ordered its members to stop administering COVID-19 jabs until they have received their certificates.

Eastern Cape health spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, lashed out at the senior official – who is a sub-district trainer – accusing him of “ignorance” when contacted by Health-e News on Tuesday.

The province has experienced several hiccups during phase two of the national vaccine rollout. Doses have run out at a number of hospitals including the Komani Frontier Hospital where senior citizens were left stranded in cold, rainy weather last month.

Vaccination centre reopened: Business as normal 

Kupelo has confirmed that the vaccination centre has since opened and is operating as normal.

“The official has been reprimanded and will appear before a disciplinary hearing soon, said Kupelo.

Explaining the issue of competency certificates, Kupelo said the nurses were competent to vaccinate people since they had been trained.

“The nurses are properly trained and are competent to administer COVID-19 vaccines. There has been a delay in the printing of their competency certificates in Bisho. It does not mean that they should carry the hard copies of their competency certificates when vaccinating people,” said Kupelo.

Approved vaccinators at vaccination centres

He said all community healthcare centres in King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) are accredited and approved as vaccination sites and appear on the master facility list which has been submitted to the national health office.

Kupelo said there are four trained vaccinators who have participated in the national vaccination training programme.

Denosa provincial chairperson, Sivuyile Mange, maintained that nurses would only be deemed competent once they have been handed their competency certificates. He says that nurses can only administer COVID-19 vaccines once these certificates have been issued, despite being fully trained.

“Only until such time that they have the competency certificates in their hands and it proves that they are competent, will they be able to administer the doses. This is in line with the employers and the service provider who trained them,” said Mange. – Health-e News

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Max Matavire