Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, says he is pleased many residents in the 35 to 49 age bracket have registered in their numbers for their COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have nearly reached 300 000 registrations in just four days, and we are fast approaching 1 000 000 registrations in the Western Cape overall,” said Winde on Sunday.

The registration of this age group on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) opened on Thursday last week.

Meanwhile, he said the Department of Health has indicated that the EVDS has already started scheduling vaccinations for this age group and that appointments will be starting sooner than initially planned.

“Some residents in this age bracket have asked me whether they can walk in already too. The simple answer is yes,” he said.

However, there are some complexities which need to be considered and the provincial government would prefer residents to wait for an appointment if they can.

“The Western Cape is trying to manage the limited number of vaccines it has at each site fairly, based on those who are most vulnerable. The best and most objective way to do this is by age. This is because older residents have a much higher chance of dying if they are infected, based on very sound research globally,” he explained.

In addition, the provincial government is still signing up residents who are aged 50 and above and have yet to receive the first dose of the vaccine.

There is also an even a larger proportion of those who are 60 years and over, still needing their second dose.

“But we only have a set number of doses to use each week, and at each site.”

Prioritisation

To manage this, the Premier said the Western Cape has introduced a prioritisation system for walk-ins to ensure fairness at public sites. However, private vaccination centres might operate differently.

The over 60 residents requiring a first or second dose are currently a top priority in the walk-in queue, as they are at the highest risk of hospitalisation and death and find it the most difficult to register online and will be assisted first.

“We will then assist those walk-ins in the 50 to 59 age bracket who need their first dose, followed by those in the next age bracket, 35 to 49.”

This means that walk-ins for the 35 plus bracket are possible at public sites but might have to wait longer and Winde said they could not guarantee that they will be helped if the vaccine allocation at the site is used up.

“An appointment remains the preferred route at this early stage,” he said.

The Premier said that they can administer about 150 000 vaccinations a week, including second doses which must be given six weeks after the first dose.

“Six weeks ago, the Western Cape vaccinated approximately 70 000 people, who will now also be needing a second dose. We must ensure proper planning for this so that no one is left behind.”

He said he was confident that as vaccine supplies increase and more people are vaccinated in the over 50 bracket, the pace in the 35 plus group will pick up and more walk-ins in this bracket will be helped and quicker.

“I am also constantly pushing for more vaccines, and opening more sites, for this very reason. I want to thank the entire 35 plus for their patience and understanding, and for being so enthusiastic to get vaccinated.

“This is exactly what we need to beat the pandemic and save lives and jobs.”

He has assured them that they will get their vaccine soon.

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter