SA pharmaceutical groups Dis-Chem and Clicks have announced plans to offer Covid-19 vaccines at their retail outlets. On Monday, the country entered phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme which will see the elderly and people with comorbidities receiving their jabs.
Government will administer the two-shot Pfizer vaccines at 87 sites across the country. The phase is set to take place until October 17.
Here is what you need to know:
Clicks to offer vaccinations at 47 sites
Clicks said it has received approval from the health department to offer vaccinations at 47 sites nationally, with a further 520 awaiting approval for registration.
The group’s chief commercial officer, Rachel Wrigglesworth, said Clicks pharmacies are well placed to support the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, subject to stock availability.
The group’s wholesale division, United Pharmaceutical Distributors (UPD), will store the vaccines and transport them to selected pharmacies.
“Clicks has considerable expertise in the delivery of vaccinations and is proud to support the national department of health with vaccinating the nation,” said Wrigglesworth.
“Our healthcare professionals have received specialist training on handling and administering of the Covid-19 vaccine and are ready to administer vaccinations safely in accordance with the health department’s eligibility guidelines.”
Clicks said the cost of the vaccine will be in line with the department’s prescribed guidelines and urged people on medical aids to contact their medical schemes to confirm payment options.
Dis-Chem is helping government
Dis-Chem said it would support government’s initiative and would start vaccinating health workers and people over 60.
The company said elderly citizens must be registered online via the government’s electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) portal to receive a jab as their in-store staff will not be able to assist if they are not registered.
The pharmaceutical company will not be selling the vaccines but administering the jabs. The administering fee for the vaccine is R70.
“The admin fee has been set by the department of health, which all providers will charge to recover costs related to vaccine administration. For insured vaccines, the cost of administration will be paid in full by medical schemes as this is a prescribed minimum benefit.
“In the case of uninsured vaccines, the admin fee will be funded by the department of health,” said Dis-Chem.
Mass vaccination to start on May 24
Dis-Chem’s national head of clinics, Lizette Kruger, said the group will start mass vaccination on May 24 at 11 sites in five provinces: Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
Kruger said Dis-Chem will administer between 500 and 600 Covid-19 jabs a day.
“Once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is released, we will make it available in our stores. The capacity will not be 500. We will probably look at [administering] between 20 and 40 a day per store,” she said.
Kruger said Dis-Chem will expand its operations to 32 mass vaccination sites across the country, depending on the demand.
Vaccines to be administered in public and private sectors
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said the vaccine will be administered in 83 public sectors and four in the private sector.
The sites will be published on the SA coronavirus website.
Mkhize said no walk-ins will be accommodated from Monday.
“The programme has been designed to avoid long queues. This is why it is important that people should register beforehand, and follow the instructions which they receive by SMS,” he said.
“If you miss your vaccine appointment for any reason, you will be rescheduled, that is given another date and time to be vaccinated. If you miss three appointments, you will not be rescheduled again. However, you will still be on the system, and can ask to be scheduled again by calling the Covid-19 hotline or visiting a registration site.”
You can’t choose your vaccine
According to Mkhize, at this stage no-one can choose which vaccine they want receive.
“When you get vaccinated you will be informed which vaccine you are getting and if a second dose is needed. You will receive the date, time and place of your second dose by SMS or a card will be issued to you on the day of vaccination if you do not have a phone.”
He said most people will get their first and second doses at the same site.
“The Pfizer vaccines are safe and work well, even against the variant that is dominant in this country. After 14 days, one starts to show markers of immunity. There is very good literature to show the interval between doses can be increased to six weeks.”