Despite delayed efforts to secure its much needed quota, the National Department of Health (NDoH) says the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine will land in the country on 1st February next week. The rollout for said vaccine will happen via a new online platform, the department has also confirmed, with acting COO, Milani Wolmarans, unpacking how the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) will work.
“The system is a data-secure platform built with an enterprise architecture that complies with national and international security standards,” she explained in a media briefing yesterday. Ensuring that the platform is secure will prove vitally important, not only as access to vaccines will be a highly sought after commodity, but also as a massive amount of citizen data will be captured on it.
We’ve already seen how South Africans reacted to the COVID-19 tracing app last year, with conspiracy theories of government tracking running rampant, so the same can ill afford to happen here.
As noted by President Cyril Ramaphosa during one of his national addresses at the beginning of the year, frontline healthcare workers will be the first to be inoculated in the country, with one million vaccines secured during the first phase of rollout.
The vaccine earmarked for healthcare workers will require them to go to a vaccination site with their ID book and medical aid details (if they’re on medical aid).
“They will also receive an SMS which will have a vaccination code, which they will show to the vaccinator to confirm they’re eligible to receive the vaccine and confirm consent,” Wolmarans adds.
The healthcare workers will then receive another SMS on when to come back for the second dose, after which they will receive a vaccination certification.
“The acting COO said the system is linked to supply chain management to ensure that there are enough doses to inoculate the vaccinees when they arrive at the local vaccination service site,” according government’s SA News portal.
This will be accompanied by an online vaccine self-registration system, that healthcare workers can be access via a cellphone or computer.
“It captures basic information to assign you or tell you which vaccination site to go as well as on which date to go,” Wolmarans noted. “If you register on this platform, you’ll get an appointment,” she promised.
The same process is expected to be followed for the future phases of vaccine rollout, with South African citizens also needing to register where indicated.
With 20 million vaccines reportedly being secured for SA in total, it remains to be seen how effectively the rollout can be implemented, as well as what effect it has on the unique strain of COVID-19 in South Africa, along with the spread of the virus in general.