The Western Cape government says that it plans to pursue its own vaccine strategy which will take effect in three stages.
“We have appointed a vaccine advisory committee, made up of experts who will advise us on matters including science and ethics throughout the process.,” it said.
The three phases of the strategy are as follows:
- Healthcare workers: The provincial government has estimated that there are approximately 100,000 healthcare workers in the public and private sector. This number will also include community health care workers, care workers and health science students.
- Essential workers: Those in congregate settings (such as care homes), those over 60 years old, and those over 18 with co-morbidities.
- General population: This will include anyone over 18. The vaccine has not been tested for safety in pregnant women and in children and will not be administered to these groups.
The provincial government says it has devised a process which will be followed for the rollout of the vaccines, in all three phases.
“Firstly, facilities offering vaccination, as well as those individuals doing the vaccinating will be pre-registered and accredited.
“The next step is the creation of a vaccination register which will be similar to a voters roll and list those who require vaccinating. In this regard, we have started consultations with the IEC to share information about the systems they use.”
Those on the register will receive an appointment time and date, where they sign a consent form, receive their first dose, and an appointment date for their second dose. They will also be issued with proof of vaccination.
On the appropriate date, the person will receive their second dose. “We will also be putting in place data systems to track the progress of the rollout and vaccine coverage at an individual and community level.
“The National Department of Health has proposed a computer application system for this process, however, should there be any delays with this system, the Western Cape Government will have its own system and mitigating processes in place to avoid any delays.”
In a briefing to parliament’s health portfolio committee, Western Cape provincial health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said that the province would also look at what can be done to source additional doses of Covid vaccines.
While no explicit plans were mentioned, Mbombo said that the premier was engaging with suppliers.
“The premier, in his capacity as a provincial command council (head) for Covid, has been engaging with suppliers and with various other stakeholders in regard to the issue of vaccines,” she said.
“This is crucial as there may be a time where there might be extra need to expand capacity (for vaccines) beyond what the national government has provided.”
She added that the provincial government has made it a point in the past to have a Plan B with medical interventions, with things like TB and HIV medications.
The Western Cape Government said it has also introduced a number of systems and interventions to ensure sufficient oxygen supplies to hospitals in the province to cater for high numbers of hospitalisations in the peak of the resurgence.
Over the past week, the combined oxygen utilisation for public and private hospitals in the province has been approximately 73 tonnes daily, the province said.
“This is still above the total production output of 70 tonnes for Afrox’s Western Cape plant.
“We have however been working closely with the supplier and have secured additional supply from outside of the province. The Western Cape now has five bulk oxygen tankers allocated for the daily delivery of oxygen supplies to individual hospitals.”
The Western Cape provincial government said that it is using a specially designed internal dashboard to monitor oxygen utilisation carefully.
This dashboard is updated daily with the latest information so that the Department of Health and individual facilities can monitor their oxygen consumption.
“It provides detailed information including historical usage and bulk storage space available across the system and at a facility level.
“This allows us to get a view of the whole system to monitor oxygen usage across the province, allowing us to identify and address any pressure points early on.”
The system also allows facility managers to simulate patient numbers based on that facility’s specifications, allowing them to determine how changes in patient profile would impact oxygen supply.
For facilities which do not have bulk oxygen supply, the dashboard allows them to estimate the number and size of oxygen cylinders they would need to order to provide specific treatment. It also includes a reporting tool wo determine daily pressure points in the system with regard to the timeous delivery of cylinders.
The oxygen data also links into tracking systems for beds and available staff.
“These three elements are key to us providing appropriate healthcare to all who need it, and these tools give us a full overview of the capacity of our healthcare system on any given day.
“Our hospitals continue to experience extreme pressure and we call on residents to stay vigilant in implementing prevention measures in their daily lives.”