Sisonke vaccine project reaches nearly 19,000 health workers in single day

Record number vaccinated on Tuesday

Glenda Gray, left, and Linda-Gail Bekker carrying the first dose of vaccine for the Sisonke implementation study which kick-started SA's Covid-19 vaccinations.
Glenda Gray, left, and Linda-Gail Bekker carrying the first dose of vaccine for the Sisonke implementation study which kick-started SA's Covid-19 vaccinations.
Image: File photo

The vaccination of healthcare workers in SA hit a record high on Tuesday, with almost 19,000 receiving their Covid-19 Johnson & Johnson (J&J) jab in a single day, Prof Glenda Gray, co-principal investigator of the Sisonke implementation study, said on Wednesday morning. 

By Tuesday night, 395,230 healthcare workers had been protected with the J&J shot, 18,979 of them on Tuesday.

Sisonke teams across the country are working flat-out to meet their target of vaccinating 500,000 health workers by the end of this week after a pause in April delayed delivery of the assigned doses.

Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, co-principal investigator of the Sisonke study, tweeted on Tuesday: “It’s going to be a tough few days to get this together — but we have one mission at #Sisonke and that is to vaccinate 120,000 healthcare workers in the last remaining days.”

For the final week, the definition of healthcare workers has been broadened to include laboratory staff, researchers, care home workers, people working for multilateral health agencies and medical scheme administrators.

They were queuing at Sisonke’s 95 sites across the country this week, seizing the chance to get vaccinated ahead of the national rollout which is expected to start on Monday.

Only those eligible and registered on the government’s electronic vaccine data system (EVDS) were accepted for the shots.

Demand for the vaccines was high before the pause in the study, but this decision precipitated a rise in vaccine hesitancy and fall in demand, said Gray, who is also president of the SA Medical Research Council.

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) temporarily suspended the Sisonke study on April 13, the same day the US Food and Drug Administration paused its J&J rollout to investigate extremely rare and severe blood clots detected in six out of 6.8 million Americans vaccinated. The study resumed on April 28.

More rigorous pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination monitoring of participants at risk of blood clotting disorders were introduced after the resumption.

Bekker said at the time: “The strong recommendation remains that if you have a risk of Covid-19 exposure then the vaccination is protective and highly beneficial.”

The Sisonke study is providing Covid-19 J&J vaccines to 500,000 healthcare workers and the health department is expected to cover the remaining 500,000 to 700,000.

TimesLIVE


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