Separating the myths from the facts about the vaccine roll-out

Last  week a Whatsapp message was widely shared claiming nearly expired vaccines would be available at Mitchell’s Plain Hospital, Cape Town. Those who received this message found a loophole on the registration site, and proceeded to get their jabs. The recipients marked themselves as healthcare workers – they were not. Now that the vaccine roll-out is actually happening, it’s important that we all understand how the system works.  

(Meanwhile, here’s a guide to help you register for a Covid-19  vaccine. (LINK) 


As of 17 May 2021 South Africa moved into Phase 1B for healthcare workers who have not received the vaccine yet. We are also in Phase 2 for people older than 60 years old. Phase 2 will start off in old-age homes. 

“We strongly encourage people to wait for official communication (via SMS) inviting them to come to a specific vaccine site, on a specific date and with a specific time-slot. All fake news should be ignored, and only communication from official sources should be heeded,” Dr Keith Cloete, head of the Western Cape Health Department told us today.

The department reiterated that walk-ins to vaccination centres are not encouraged.

There is a national scheduling system and people should wait to receive the sms with their details before going to a vaccination centre. 

Read more: What vaccine hoarding will mean for international travel


Walk-ins are allowed 


No walk-ins are allowed (for now). 

People will have to follow within the eligibility guidelines for Phase 2 to receive their vaccine. If anyone who does not fall into this category receives the vaccination, it is likely something has gone wrong with the system or some corruption has taken place. Last week, Twitter user @CapeTownGuy posted that he had received the vaccine after hearing that there were leftover vaccines from the Sisonke trial. The department of Western Cape responded to say that unused vaccines being available to anyone out of the current system was fake news. 

However, the health minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize said, walk-ins would soon be allowed specifically for people over the age of 60, especially for those who could not register online for the vaccine. Mkhize said citizens living in old age homes will not receive an SMS because the vaccines will be brought to them. Government is targeting 7 700 senior citizens living in 102 old age homes by the end of the week, and 50 000 citizens documented in old age homes are targeted to be vaccinated by the end of May.

Read more: Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine 


The government will only be offering the vaccines. 


Dischem will be ready to commence vaccinations in the week of May 24. Dis-Chem Pharmacies have confirmed it is ready to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out. “We are well-positioned to commence with the vaccination roll-out aligned to government timelines, and we have prepared our teams to work at full capacity if supply from government is consistent,” says CEO Ivan Saltzman. 

The company has secured 32 vaccination sites. Of the 32 sites, 11 will be ready to commence with vaccinations in the week of May 24. These dedicated sites will be able to administer an average of 600 vaccinations per day, and this can be extended with the addition of Dis-Chem’s in-store clinics, with each store capable of administering up to 50 shots daily. 

The Pfizer stock has been allocated to Dis-Chem as the group has the necessary infrastructure to manage its extreme handling conditions. Dis-Chem’s vaccine roll-out will be linked to government’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses meaning Dis-Chem will have a two-week advance view on bookings to ensure that the second dosage is administered timeously.

“From the start of the pandemic we put up our hands to assist the government via testing stations and our commitment to partnering with the government to fight this pandemic remains steadfast. The vaccination roll-out provides us with another opportunity to continue to play a role in supporting the Dept of Health via its roll-out programme while continuing to serve our community,” Saltzman says.

Read more: Healthcare workers reflect on their Covid vaccine experiences 

Reporting by Ling Shepherd and Fatima Moosa.