Sr Pienaar on vaccination:
I need it and my colleagues need it!
Early signs of the West Coast District reaching its COVID-19 peak in the second wave is at hand. Over the past seven days there has been an 18% decline in new cases of COVID-19 and a drop in people hospitalised.
Western Cape Government Health and other role-players who band together to beat the pandemic in this area yesterday received Premier Alan Winde and the MEC for Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, in Morreesburg and Vredendal.
If you live in the West Coast area, you will be tested for COVID-19:
• If you have COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. a loss of your sense of taste and smell, a sudden sore throat or fever). This includes healthcare workers and people living in communal spaces like old age homes, hostels or correctional facilities
• If you are awaiting surgery
• If you are a healthcare worker who have been in quarantine and by day 7 still do not have symptoms
• If you recovered from COVID-19 and 90 days later develop COVID-19 symptoms again
Support loved ones who are in hospital
Staying in touch with family members and friends while they are ill, is very important. If you have a loved one in hospital, identify one person that will call the hospital ward for an update on the patient’s well-being. This person can share the update with others who are concerned about the patient. If your loved one has a cell phone, make regular contact through sending messages and calling.
Increasing our protection through vaccination
We are embarking on the biggest vaccination programme of its kind as we prepare to receive 1 million doses of Covishield by the end of January and a further 500 000 in February.
Vaccines are an important part of keeping us safe and stopping the spread of COVID-19. Vaccines protects an individual, by reducing their risk of infection or the severity of their symptoms if they do become infected. When enough people have received the vaccine, they develop “herd or population immunity” which results in a low risk of the virus continuing to spread within that community.
To ensure the vaccine is safe and effective Covishield was tested on 11 636 participants. Only half of the group received the vaccine. Of those who received it, only 30 developed COVID-19. Of the other half who did not receive the vaccine, 101 people got COVID-19. It was noted that the 30 who were vaccinated and did become infected with COVID-19 were mildly ill and did not need hospitilisation and there were no deaths. Of the 101 who were not vaccinated, ten had to be hospitalised after getting COVID-19 and one passed away.
In preparing for the roll-out of the vaccine the Department is engaging with various role-players the first being healthcare workers and Labour Unions. Healthcare workers are the first group who will have the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19. As part of the first engagements with staff, the Department asked staff to participate in a rapid poll. Of the 1 680 staff members who participated, 918 indicated they would take the vaccine.
For Sr Hanneke Pienaar of the Department’s Swartland Sub-district Office vaccination is a step in the right direction. She has seen the impact of the pandemic in clinics. She has held colleagues and friends who lost loved ones due to COVID-19. She has wept with patients and held her breath when hearing another colleague tested positive. Now it is time for change. “Vaccinations are the reason modern medicine have been able to contain so many diseases. It might still be a thin sliver of hope on the horizon, but it is hope. I am going to get immunized. I need it and my colleagues need it. For us to continue the battle, we need all the protection that is available.”
During the second phase of the roll out, essential workers and high risk groups will have the opportunity to be vaccinated. This includes people in congregate settings and people older than 60 years as well as people who are older than 18 years who have chronic conditions. In the third phase the broader population of persons older than 18 years can be vaccinated.