We will be able to vaccinate 150,000 people a day in South Africa: medical aid

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Medical aid Bonitas says it is actively preparing for phase 2 of the deployment of the Covid-19 vaccination in the country as well as a possible third wave.

Lee Callakoppen, senior director of Bonitas Medical Fund, said various scenarios have been presented regarding the speed of the third wave, and the worst case scenario is that it will be twice as fast as the second wave.

The best case is that the virus is 50% more transmissible than the second wave, he said.

“Unfortunately, private supply of the vaccine is currently prohibited, but as the supply is open to other entities, we will take all necessary measures to ensure that we have access to vaccines for our members,” Callakoppen said.

“We want to mitigate the risks of them contracting Covid-19 and becoming seriously ill or dying, which is why we are working behind the scenes to ensure that we are ready to roll out the vaccine to our eligible members.”

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Callakoppen said that Medscheme, the administrator of Bonitas, was engaged and working with the Ministry of Health, Business for SA, the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) and various industry stakeholders to help with the rollout from the phase 2.

“We are also in the process of applying for accreditation for set up private vaccination centers. This will facilitate access for our ‘at risk’ members and offer a larger footprint, including remote areas of the country, ”he said.

“Our more than 10,000 members, who are healthcare workers, have already started the phase 1 vaccination program.

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“There are approximately 72,000 members who are classified as ‘essential / congregational workers’ and 185,000 high risk members who are over 60 or have co-morbidities. We intend to start the phase 2 deployment as soon as the vaccine is secure.

“Thanks to the collaboration with one of our partners, Afrocentric Health, we will be able to administer up to 150,000 vaccines per day.”

Still an uncertainty

Callakoppen said there was still uncertainty around the government’s Phase 2 deployment, including definitions of what an “essential worker” is.

“The Ministry of Health immediately announced that health workers would be vaccinated in phase 1.

“The priority group for phase 2 would include essential workers, people living in communities, people 60 years of age and over and people over 18 years of age with co-morbidities.

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“However, it has since been announced that due to a lack of vaccine procurement, these groups will be adjusted in order of priority.”

Callakoppen said that, as it stands, on April 8, 2021, these groups include:

“What we have done is make sure that we know, up front, who our high-risk member population is and, once Phase 2 begins, we are able to make sure that everyone who want to be vaccinated will be.

“Together with our administrator, we have put in place various processes to ensure that we are able to achieve this goal in order to ensure the peace of mind of our members,” said Callakoppen.


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