Discovery Health medical scheme is ramping up its vaccine distribution plans as it aims to vaccinate 40,000 people a day in South Africa.
In a letter sent to clients this week, the group said that its main objective is to get as many people in South Africa vaccinated as quickly as supply allows.
The group said that its vaccination site at its head office in Johannesburg, 1 Discovery Place, is currently the largest national private sector site – contributing to over 15% of all Gauteng vaccinations administered to date, and approximately 12% of the private sector vaccinations administered nationally.
“Based on the success of this site, we are intending to scale it up by a further 50%. We are also applying our learnings from 1 Discovery Place to bolster vaccination capacity countrywide, with the aspiration of vaccinating 40,000 individuals per day when all of our associated sites are at full capacity.
“In addition to the four additional sites in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town we have opened since 1 Discovery Place, Discovery has focussed its efforts on establishing further mass vaccination sites,” it said.
Discovery said that this will include Gallagher Estate in Midrand which has the ability to vaccinate 5,000 individuals per day; with a target go-live end of June subject to securing a sufficient supply of vaccines.
Additionally, a mass site in Cape Town and another in KwaZulu-Natal are currently under consideration, it said.
“The Department of Health’s vaccine management system, EVDS, allocates members of various medical schemes to our sites; and we are proud our sites cater for this inclusivity.
“Having said that, our focus remains on accelerating reach and rollout so that all our eligible members are covered as quickly as possible.”
Those over the age of 60 years and waiting for their first dose
Discovery said that there are over five million people over the age of 60 years in South Africa, which means it is going to take some time for everyone in this cohort to be vaccinated.
“Please rest assured that, provided you are registered on the Discovery Vaccination Portal or on the EVDS, you will be scheduled for your vaccination over the coming weeks.
“Although some vaccination sites have made provision for walk-ins, these slots are limited, and queues are often longer than those at sites working on scheduled appointments. Discovery vaccination sites, such as 1 Discovery Place, function on the basis of scheduled appointments only and do not accommodate walk-ins.”
Those over the age of 60 and waiting for their second Pfizer-BioNTech dose
The interval between the first dose and second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 42 days (six weeks).
While this was originally communicated as 21 days, Pfizer has amended its protocol globally as a result of emerging evidence showing a 42-day interval triggers a superior immune response, Discovery said.
“Please note you will not be able to access your second dose if you arrive before this interval has elapsed, and you will automatically be registered for your second dose and do not need to register again.
“When it’s your time to receive your second dose, you will receive an appointment via SMS from EVDS for a particular site. Alternatively, you can use the Discovery Vaccination Portal to book an appointment at a Discovery-managed vaccination site.”
Those under 60 years of age
Those under 60 are not yet eligible for vaccination.
Once there has been sufficient coverage of Phase 2, Phase 3 will involve vaccinating the remaining adult population of approximately 22.5 million people, further prioritised according to the evolving national prioritisation framework.
“The National Department of Health will announce when registrations will open to people in younger cohorts over the coming weeks. Registration on Discovery’s Vaccination Portal will open slightly prior to this,” it said.