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GEMS ready to rollout vaccine-Minister Mchunu


South Africa’s coronavirus vaccine rollout programme will very soon reach those covered by the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS).

Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu made the announcement during a recent virtual media briefing on the progress of government efforts in the fight against Covid-19, which include the national vaccination rollout programme.

“Of course, we need to acknowledge the role played by GEMS; already we have had meetings with GEMS and received briefings on their preparedness to work with government departments to ensure the roll-out of the vaccination. Gems have identified several [vaccination] sites and they have had a number of several briefings in provinces, where Premiers had interaction with them and various Departments of Health in provinces.

“They have worked together in identifying various sites and they have given them specific plans relating to how they will play their role in vaccination. Of course, GEMS it caters for more than their direct members, the relatives of direct members all stand to benefit from what GEMS is doing currently working with the department of Health closely. We hope that all is going to go well,” he said.   

Earlier this year on March 5, South Africa marked one year since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country.

Vaccines for all public servants

The Covid-19 vaccination programme that the country is currently rolling out is a key intervention to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a media briefing where he was also joined by acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi and a panel of experts, Minister Mchunu appealed that the vaccine rollout should be availed to the entire workforce in the public service space.

“We are happy that the vaccine is being rolled out for teachers throughout the country. We would like to plead with those who are responsible-the Department of Health, we don’t have any glitch [in rolling out the vaccine]…we just run smoothly, so that we extend the rollout [of vaccine] to other sections in the public service and cover everybody including…I mean all [the public servants]…not just educators and not just those working in the healthcare sector alone…everybody…literally everybody and we are sure that we are on course in that regard,” he said.

Vaccines are intended to provide immunity against Covid-19. In South Africa, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccination, chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, is overseeing the vaccine rollout. This is the largest vaccination campaign undertaken in the country’s history as it stretches across 52 districts and 280 wards, where it will reach over 40 million people by the end of the final phase. Government has already vaccinated the country’s estimated 1.25 million healthcare workers.

Minister Mchunu also used the platform to acknowledge all public servants for the role in the fight against Covid-19.

“We acknowledge the role played by public servants particularly in period of disaster and hopelessness during these trying times of Covid-19 in South Africa. Public servants played a critical role in ensuring that public service in the country continue from national, provincial and local spheres of government. In particular, our acknowledgement goes to health workers all of them in the health sector, we acknowledge the roles that they had to play of bringing hope to our people throughout the country,” he said.

Myth about the vaccine

According to the Minister the myth that have been spread about the vaccines have subsided.

“It is clear now that we all know as a nation…we are convinced that this is the only decisive step that we can take against the virus itself…that we vaccinate,” he said adding that South Africans should continue to follow the best strategies to fight the virus by continuing wearing their masks, practice social distance and washing hands regularly.

Acting Health Minister Kubayi announced that those aged 50 and above will receive their COVID-19 vaccines from July 15, 2021.

The vaccination programme is the number one priority in the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.