Covid-19 News Vaccines

DSD vaccine rollout: ECD workers get their chance

Written by Marcia Zali

The Department of Social Development (DSD) is aiming to vaccinate over 240 000 of its workforce by the end of this week as South Africa enjoys an uptick in its national COVID-19 vaccination rollout during the past few days.

In more good news, members of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) workforce will finally have a chance to be vaccinated after missing out previously. 

Kicking off in Thembisa, Ekurhuleni yesterday, this particular vaccination rollout will see close to a quarter of a million workers in not only the ECD sector but also the Social Service Professionals (SSPs) in public, private and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) targeted.

These include social workers, auxiliary and student social workers and child and youth care workers. Joining them are community development practitioners employed by the DSD and frontline staff working all of their facilities such as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the National Development Agency (NDA) and the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP).

The government faced a barrage of criticism when frontline workers within the education sectors were pushed to the front of the queue leaving workers in the ECD sector behind. But according to the DSD minister, Lindiwe Zulu, necessary processes first needed to be followed to cover all employees and practitioners within the sector.

‘ECD sector always a priority’

“There is absolutely no way that we could have forgotten about this sector,” said Zulu.

“We have been working together with the Department of Health from the very beginning and the other issue is about the availability of the vaccines so we needed to make sure that when we start with them, the vaccine is available.”

With some vaccination centres having been affected by last week’s violence and looting, Zulu said they (the government) were concerned about the impact this could have on the rollout but they confident things should run smoothly at most centres.

“What happened in the past week will create some challenges. For instance, in the Western Cape, they couldn’t start because they don’t have the syringes and needles since the factory from where they are getting them was burnt down,” said Zulu.

She did however express her confidence in the nation’s ability to knuckle down and get vaccinated after a week of major upheaval.

“We will pull ourselves together and also appreciate that COVID-19 is still here. I am hoping that last week’s challenges will calm down so that the government together with the relevant sectors, are able to continue with the vaccination process,” said Zulu.

Rabasotho Hall welcomes COVID-19 vaccine traffic

Almost 4 000 people have received their jabs at the Rabasotho Hall since 23 June.

The venue has played host to employees from the education sector, members of the community as well as the South African Police Service (SAPS). The DSD have allocated this week, up to and including Friday, to vaccinate all their workers.

Senior Manager in the primary healthcare division for the Northern region of Ekurhuleni, Sister Thelma Nekhumbe, says they’d had to make separate rows to accommodate all the sectors.

“We have a row for social development who will be getting the J&J (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine and we have another row for our community members who will receive the Pfizer vaccine” said Nekhumbe.

She added that the site’s proximity to the Thembisa SAPS offices was one of the reasons they managed to continue vaccinating people during the violent looting sprees in some parts of the township last week.

“We are lucky because we are next to a police station so we have not been affected that much because our community members know that it is safe. Though they came in low numbers, they took comfort in knowing they were in an area which didn’t experience any riots.” 

DSD employees embrace COVID-19 jabs

Tinyiko Shisana, a social worker supervisor in the Thembisa/Kempton Park area, was one of the first DSD employees to get vaccinated. She said being vaccinated would allow her to deliver services to communities optimally.

“There was a time where I was doubtful about the vaccines because of the myths surrounding them but I saw a lot of people losing their lives because of COVID-19. So I thought it was important for me to be safe and take this vaccine,” she said.

Shisana believes that her sector is receiving the vaccine at the right time.

“When it comes to priorities, I’m not aggrieved by the fact that nurses and teachers received the vaccine first because they are at a higher risk than us. I am privileged that they have now included us and I believe that everything happens at the right time,” added Shisana. – Health-e News

About the author

Marcia Zali