Dear B4SA and healthcare colleagues
You will undoubtedly have followed developments over the past few days related to the South African COVID-19 vaccine acquisition and rollout programme. Colleagues will be aware that we established the B4SA vaccine platform to provide up-to-date information on bilateral and multilateral engagements with government, hopefully enabling businesses to respond to the latest news.
To this end, I would like to update you.
The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine’s first delivery arrived on 16 February at the O R Tambo International Airport, Gauteng. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) approved the vaccine. The consignment was moved to a secure facility before distributing it overnight to the provinces’ various vaccine centres.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and a group of healthcare workers received their COVID-19 vaccinations at the Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town on Wednesday, 17 February. The glass cubical in the hospital’s Trauma Unit was where the first round of vaccines was administered.
These first doses are part of an extension of the study of the vaccine being conducted in South Africa and is why SAHPRA approved it for healthcare workers before it was officially licenced. An additional nine million doses are under negotiation by the government.
This is merely the start. The B4SA workstreams have been working closely with their respective government counterparts to ensure common alignment, in preparation for the rollout of the rest of Phase 1, and planning intensely in terms of readiness for Phases 2 and 3. There is still a significant amount of work to do, lots of questions still to be answered, but each day it becomes more apparent that we are all moving forward, and in the right direction, to ensure that we will have access to sufficient vaccines, and that all parties can continue to work together to ensure these are administered successfully throughout our nation. Stay safe.
Martin Kingston, Chairman of the B4SA Steering Committee
Government Communication: COVID-19 vaccination message guideline – 18 February
Government produces regular communications with useful COVID-19 information and the ‘I Choose #VacciNation’ campaign material free for use by business to help inform employees, customers, and communities.
NEW: COVID-19 vaccination message guideline published 18 February 2021
The COVID-19 Vaccination Message Guideline was developed by the Communication Work Stream of the Technical Committee of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccinations. The guide includes current (18 February) official information about COVID-19 and the vaccination programme and answers to frequently requested information such as: vaccine safety, effectiveness and sourcing; the different vaccines being procured or considered; current vaccine rollout policy and plans; responses to the most pressing vaccine related questions and “myths”; along with other communications resources. Please note: this messaging guideline is free for use by business and will be updated periodically by Government.
Download the guide here.
B4SA WORKSTREAM UPDATES
Service Delivery Platforms and Vaccine Delivery Readiness
The workstream was informed that the 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine arrived in the country on 16 February 2021, and Baragwanath Hospital, Steve Biko, Groote Schuur and Tygerberg hospitals are included in the identified research sites. Accredited researchers by the MRC will ensure the vaccination rollout for all identified healthcare workers (HCWs) at the sites. Training of vaccinators in the private sector is a priority, and we remain hopeful that the training will go ahead and that they will be able to participate in this initial roll-out.
This vaccine has been made available by J&J free of charge as part of the study. Private healthcare workers will be able to attend the sites for vaccination. The private sector’s roll-out is under discussion and will apply to the second tranche of 80 000 doses, expected in two weeks. This will either be at designated private hospitals accredited as vaccination sites – HCWs will travel to these hospitals for vaccination – or through teams of trained MRC approved vaccinators who will travel between hospitals and vaccinate HCWs at their place of work. These options will be discussed over the course of this week.
The workstream continues to recalibrate the issues and challenges impacting the rollout of the Phase 1(a), based on the limited number of doses coming into the country and the limited number of sites being identified for this initial HCW rollout. Several bilateral meetings have been held by the workstream’s leadership to align with the National Department of Health (NDoH) and the provinces on the recalibrated rollout plan for Phase 1(a). The prioritisation of Phase 1(a) must be amplified as part of this initial phase.
This current process will continue until such time that SAHPRA registers the vaccine, whereafter the J&J vaccine will be commercially available, and the original roll-out plan will kick in. Government and the SIU are also working to ensure both the safety and security of the vaccines and that all relevant checks and balances are in place to prevent any corruption associated with the 80 000 doses allocated to this initial roll-out, and any future rollouts of the vaccine over the ensuing months.
The workstream will tabulate all relevant issues for discussion with the MRC and which require urgent and immediate feedback from the NDoH and the MRC regarding the current, recalibrated rollout of the vaccine, for the private sector to support this initiative effectively.
As it relates to the areas of focus for Phase 1(b), the necessary finalisation of these areas is currently underway:
- Vaccination site registration process – looking at accreditation criteria for sites.
- Vaccinator registration – looking at reimbursement and contracting models for private facilities (pharmacies and GP practices).
- Vaccinator training – engaging all relevant GP associations to get their relevant vaccinators adequately trained before Phase 2 and 3 of the vaccination drive is launched. This is a focus on doctors and not nurses.
- Curator identification and registration – ensuring that the relevant curators are identified on each site to provide the necessary site compliance before NDoH approval can be granted.
The workstream has established a register of the risks to the vaccine roll-out to guide government and business in taking actions to mitigate such critical risks. The risk register is being updated and refined on an ongoing basis as new challenges are identified.
We are hoping to identify more government counterparts for the significant risks in the coming week to engage directly on risk mitigation.
We are also facilitating short workshops with various workstreams to ensure that risks have been appropriately identified and assessed. This process is proving to be very helpful in refining workstream plans and actions.
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OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND GUIDELINES ON COVID-19
All official government regulations and guidelines are available at https://www.gov.za/coronavirus/guidelines