The Department of Health on Saturday said more than 100,000 healthcare workers in the country had been vaccinated for Covid-19 with early access to the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.
In February, South Africa kicked off its vaccination drive for healthcare workers under the Sisonke Study using the single dose J&J vaccine to assess the effectiveness of the shot before it can be administered to the general population.
The Department of Health has celebrated the milestone reached and thanked all the health workers who had received their vaccinations. It said this demonstrated their trust in medical science and confidence in the system.
The CEO of the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Professor Glenda Gray, and Professor Linda-Gail Bekker have been leading the Sisonke Study.
Gray said it was fitting that exactly one year since the first Covid-19 case was recorded in South Africa, the Sisonke Study had successfully vaccinated 100,180 patient-facing healthcare workers in the public and private sector.
“This happened because of our trusted partnerships and especially because of the healthcare workers who have worked tirelessly through this pandemic. Sisonke demonstrates true togetherness – for healthcare workers by healthcare workers,” she said in a statement.
As of Friday, the cumulative number of detected Covid-19 cases in South Africa was 1,518,979, with 1,313 new cases identified.
According to the Department of Health, 104 more Covid-19 related deaths were reported bringing the total number of deaths to 50,566. Recoveries stood at 1,437,050 representing a recovery rate of 94,6%.
Sisonke Study outperforming targets
Department’s spokesperson, Popo Maja, said the Sisonke Study was outperforming its original targets for the number of vaccines delivered in its first week.
He said the momentum was set to continue in its third week as more vaccination sites come online.
“In just over two weeks, the Sisonke Study has set up 42 vaccination sites from scratch, developed and implemented complex logistics (including cold chain management, distribution of vaccines, vial filling), trained additional vaccinators, set up an online electronic registration system and ensured the safe and timely vaccination of healthcare workers.”
While the department was pleased with the progress so far, Maja said the fight against Covid-19 continued.
“We urge all who live in South Africa to remain vigilant, wear their masks, practice social distancing and regular handwashing, and keep one another safe and healthy,” he said.
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