Solidarity demands that the government accelerates the provision of vaccines to healthcare workers. This follows after it came to light that the government has already delayed the process by about three months.
“Healthcare workers are the modern-day heroes of South Africa. They work incredibly long hours under difficult conditions and they are disproportionately exposed to the virus. Therefore, they need to receive extraordinary support. One of the methods of support is an urgent intervention to make vaccines available to this group,” explained Solidarity CEO Dr Dirk Hermann.
Solidarity argues that bilateral talks with companies should be given the highest priority. According to Solidarity, healthcare workers cannot wait for the slower Covax process.
“However, the choice is still that of the healthcare worker. We do not believe in compulsory vaccinations, but we do believe that the vaccine must be available to those who do want to receive it. Access is the key word,” Hermann said.
Solidarity welcomes the co-operation of the private sector, but emphasises that medical aids, hospital groups and other enterprises should not merely be financiers; they must be involved in the entire value chain, including purchasing and distribution.
“The state cannot be in control while the private sector provides the finances. The state has a poor management record. During the pandemic, the government has repeatedly proven that it is not competent to take the lead. It is this incompetence that has led to the delay in obtaining the vaccine, and the government should be kept as far away from this process as possible.
“We are concerned that this phased approach will once again be poorly managed, which will lead to further delays and put more pressure on healthcare workers. These people already have an overwhelming patient load, they suffer from burnout and they should now be the top priority. Things will only get better once everyone has access to the vaccine,” Hermann concluded.