A Dis-Chem Covid-19 drive-through testing station in Centurion on 16 December 2020. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)
  • Dis-Chem’s popular drive-through testing stations will gear up to provide vaccine shots too – when they become available in South Africa. 
  • The health chain currently offers PCR swab testing at nine drive-through sites in Gauteng, the Western Cape, and Eastern Cape.
  • But private sector vaccinations depend on government’s ability to procure a sustainable quantity of vaccines – an issue which is set for a parliamentary showdown.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Covid-19 vaccines will be available as a drive-through service where you never need to leave your car, if Dis-Chem has its way.

The health chain says it will gear its drive-through coronavirus testing stations to also administer the immunisation shots that will protect against Covid-19, in collaboration with the department of health.

Such drive-through vaccinations are expected to be available in the United Kingdom from next week.

But first the vaccines will have to reach South Africa.

“Dis-Chem is already in communication with the department of health but has not confirmed procedure, quantity and availability of Covid-19 vaccines,” said national clinic manager, Lizeth Kruger.

Competitor Clicks is also standing ready to help in rolling out vaccinations to a targeted 40 million South Africans.

Dis-Chem’s drive-through facilities were launched shortly after South Africa went into lockdown in late March. They have proven popular, and sites in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Johannesburg were inundated.

The volume of testing required increased dramatically when South Africa reopened its international borders, with travellers requiring a negative Covid-19 PCR test result, and, again, during the second wave of infections.

“Dis-Chem is already planning to add the administration of [Covid-19] vaccines to the testing sites,” said Kruger, adding that regular flu shots would also form part of the drive through offering.

But before Dis-Chem can introduce Covid-19 vaccines to its drive-through programme, government needs to secure a supply.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who has been accused of fumbling the procurement process and failing to guarantee bilateral agreements with willing pharmaceutical companies, has been summoned to provide procurement details before Parliament on Thursday.

Mkhize initially outlined a phased approach to vaccinations in South Africa, whereby 10% of population – identified as frontline healthcare staff, essential workers, and high-risk persons – would receive the shot in February. Ordinary South Africans are expected to begin receiving their shots in the second quarter of 2021.

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