Healthcare workers in South Africa have been urged to register for their Covid-19 vaccines via an online platform which was officially launched by government on Wednesday.
Phase one of South Africa’s vaccination programme targets 1.25 million healthcare workers. To date the focus had been on clinical workers at high-volume institutions, but the government is now urging traditional healers, medical students, security personnel, and porters to register
The Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) will underpin government’s phased rollout of vaccines. It is intended to monitor supplies, and ensure that local vaccination sites are adequately equipped to meet demand.
“The pre-registration is critical to this phase and future phases,” said Rob Botha, a healthcare logistics and technical expert in the health department. “We need to make sure that the vaccines are at the right place at the right time in order to accommodate those people who have elected to have the vaccine.”
While all workers in the healthcare sector have been urged to pre-register, registration can be completed at the vaccination site for those who do not have access to the internet.
“The EVDS has been designed to be inclusive and we do not want anybody to be excluded,” said the department of health’s acting Chief Operating Officer (COO), Milani Wolmarans. “At the vaccination site there will be provisions to be registered [on the EVDS], it may just take a little longer than if you had pre-registered.”
While during the first phase of the rollout, the EVDS focuses exclusively on registering the details of healthcare workers, the platform will be extended to essential workers, the elderly and those with comorbidities in phase two. The remaining section of the adult population identified in phase three will also be requested to register on the EVDS. Registration in these phases will be communicated in due course, said health minister Zweli Mkhize.
In the meantime, Mkhize stressed that any worker who is in contact with patients – whether as a registered healthcare professional or not – should register to be included. Public and private patient-facing healthcare workers includes those who work in:
“Anyone who touches patients needs to register, it doesn’t have to be a healthcare professional,” said Mkhize in detailing the broadening scope of phase one vaccinations.
“Anyone who works in the setting where they will come across patients does need to register, that’s why traditional healers have been brought in here, so that we’ve got everyone who has a risk of being exposed to someone who already has symptoms [covered].”
By this definition, any person who works in a medical treatment setting – including community healthcare workers and pharmacies that dispense medication in both public and private hospitals – should register on the EVDS.
To date, more than 34,000 healthcare workers have registered, with the number set to surge following the platform’s official launch on Wednesday.