KZN rolls out Covid-19 vaccine

One of the first health care workers to be vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson Vaccine today at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital. Picture: KZN Premiers Office

KZN rolls out Covid-19 vaccine at Durban hospital

KZN Healthcare workers received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine when it was rolled out at a Durban hospital on Thursday

KZN rolls out Covid-19 vaccine

One of the first health care workers to be vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson Vaccine today at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital. Picture: KZN Premiers Office

KwaZulu-Natal rolled out its Covid-19 Vaccine programme at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital South of Durban in Umlazi this morning where the first batch of healthcare workers received their shots.

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine marked the start of the “important journey to reclaim back our lives, and rebuild our province and communities, which have been wrecked by this virus.”

“The vaccine rollout programme heralds the glimmer of hope… a light at the end of the tunnel… that many of our people have been patiently waiting for. It gives renewed hope that we will soon defeat this disease and be able to start anew,” he said.

Zikalala said that the initial roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca (CoviShield) vaccine had been delayed due to concerns about its efficacy against the new variant of COVID – 19 that is dominant in South Africa.

“A decision was then taken to use a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which has undergone trials and showed excellent protection as a single-dose vaccine against severe COVID-19, including in South Africa. We fully support the view that delaying the roll-out of this vaccine would have been unethical, especially given its efficacy, and its many advantages.”

Benefits of Johnson& Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine

Zikalaa said the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine included:

  • It has 57% protection against moderate to severe infection with the new variant of Covid-19  
  • It has 85% protection against severe Covid-19 infection 
  • It has 100 % protection against death from Covid-19 infection
  • There were no safety concerns established from the trials

“It is also extremely easy to roll-out, with a shelf life of up to 2 years at -20°C. It can be stored at normal fridge temperature for 3 months and the fact that it is a single shot vaccine.  South African experts conducting the J&J vaccine trial, together with the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), and from the National Department of Health have satisfied themselves of the safety and efficacy of the J&J vaccine,” he said.

Zikalala said so far 15400 KZN health care workers had contracted Covid-19 and 323 had died, which was why it was important to start the vaccination programme with them.

“They are 3-4 times more likely than the general population to develop COVID-19. And COVID – 19 cases affect 1 in 7 health workers globally,” he said.

Vaccination doses for two hospitals

He said the National Department of Health and the SA Medical Research Council had chosen Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial hospitals for the roll out of the “Johnson and Johnson Ad 26” vaccine. 

“These two hospitals were chosen because they have the largest number of employees in the province, as well as the highest number of employees affected by COVID – 19 They are both closer to the Medical Research Council sites,” he said. 

Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital will receive 5 760 doses, while Prince Mshiyeni Hospital will be getting 5 040 doses.

“Staff from these hospitals will vaccinate first, followed by staff in their catchment facilities.

We believe that this rollout programme will lead to many lives being saved; and that it will speed up our ultimate return to normalcy,” Zikalala said.

READ: ‘We have secured enough Covid-19 vaccines for everyone in South Africa who needs it’ – Mkhize