Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and other health officials have provided an update on South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.
In a media briefing on Wednesday evening (27 January), the Department of Health answered key questions around medical aids, the release of the vaccine, and the new ID system which will be used for tracking and registration.
Government is in the process of developing an electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) to assist with the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines across the country.
The system aims to assist in both the management and surveillance of the Covid-19 vaccine. Among other features, the EVDS will provide and track vaccine information, such as:
- Patient information, including demographics and number of doses;
- Safety information – such as possible adverse events following immunisation;
- Details of vaccine administration sites.
The department said that the EVDS is an online ‘self-enrollment’ portal and that based on the phased roll-out of vaccines in the country, key groups such as healthcare workers and uninsured people will have to register via government’s Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) to get an appointment.
Those who qualify will be sent a notification through SMS informing them of the time and place that the vaccine will be available. It will also come with a unique code that patients will be required to show to their vaccinator.
Patients are also expected to provide their ID and a contact number when at the vaccination site.
As part of this monitoring system, there are plans to send reminders for a follow-up appointment to receive a second dose and to include an integrated track-and-trace system for defaulters – those who do not show up to receive their second shot.
A dashboard system is also being developed to capture the reasons given for vaccine refusal.
As part of this process, the Department of Health has said that all South Africans who are vaccinated will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card.
In this regard, the department said that an electronic vaccination certificate will be available via the EVDS online platform once the second vaccine shot has been issued.
When will the vaccines arrive?
Mkhize confirmed that one million dosages are scheduled to leave India on Sunday (31 January) and will arrive in the country on Monday (1 February).
A further 500,000 vaccine doses are set to arrive in the country later in February.
“Government is working closely with the South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) to ensure no delay in approving the vaccine for use,” he said.
“The Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine has already been approved various regulators around the world and is being rolled out in other countries.”
Below are the other key points from the briefing.
- South Africa will begin vaccinating by targeting its 1.25 million health workers and the most vulnerable;
- The target is to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of the year so as to achieve herd immunity;
- Government remains the sole purchaser of vaccines and will distribute it to provincial governments and the private sector;
- The vaccination system will be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system;
- All those vaccinated will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card.
Insured vs uninsured South Africans
It was also clarified that there were effectively be two different distribution services for those who are insured and have medical aid, and those that do not.
In the case of insured persons:
- Funding will be derived from medical aids;
- The vaccine will be administered for free at points of service;
- Private providers, including pharmacies, will bill the medical scheme for the cost of the vaccine as well as the administration. This will be covered as a prescribed minimum benefit (PMB) meaning it will be free for the medical aid holder.
- An electronic vaccine data system (EVDS) will be used to plan, execute and monitor vaccination of insured health workers.
In the case of uninsured persons:
- The public sector will be the preferred provider and government will provide funding. Where there is willingness, private employers are also expected to contribute;
- The vaccination will be free at the point of service;
- Government may contract private providers to boost capacity and distribution capabilities;. This will include pharmacies, GPs and other groups that have the capacity to distribute;
- Uninsured persons will need to use the electronic vaccine data system (EVDS) for pre-booking;
- The patient’s ID number linked to the health patient registration system will be used for identification and billing.