- Impala Platinum says it will prioritise people with co-morbidities when it starts to vaccinate its workers who are older than 40.
- Initially, the government planned for people with co-morbidities to get priority too, but they never did.
- Last week, the head of the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) said co-morbidities would never be considered for priority access, because doing so is unduly complex.
- Companies in the mining sector currently have the most sites and capacity to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, and are eager to start rolling out vaccines to their workers.
- For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Mining company Impala Platinum says it will consider co-morbidities when it start rolling out vaccines to its employees older than 40, as soon as that is allowed.
Government efforts are firmly focussed on those who are 60 and older. As of this week, there was still no word on when vaccine registration would open for 40-year-olds, with government’s focus remaining firmly on the millions of over-60s who have already registered but have yet to receive a shot, and the millions more people over 60 it still hopes to register.
But employers, especially in the mining industry, are rapidly gearing up to vaccinate their employees, then surrounding communities, as soon as they get the go-ahead.
"Going forward, with the launch of Phase 2, Impala will vaccinate employees above the age of 40 years, with the priority being those who have co-morbidities, for example diabetes and other chronic conditions," the company told Business Insider South Africa.
The government's initial strategy for the second phase of the vaccine rollout was to grant priority to people over 60 and those living with co-morbidities. It was thought that priority for those with dangerous underlying conditions would continue throughout the vaccination project, much as healthcare workers continue to enjoy theoretical priority under phase 2.
But, last week Nicholas Crisp, the health deputy director general heading the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS), told Business Insider that there was no prospect that co-morbidities will be considered when prioritising vaccine recipients, due to legal and logistical reasons.
Impala has been assisting the department of health in the North West with vaccinations since the start of the Sisonke trial in March.
It took delivery of its first consignment of Pfizer vaccines on 24 May.
It began vaccinating employees and contractors over the age of 60, in line with the health department's policy and guidelines.
The company has a staff complement of 40,000 employees and contractors, of which 1,200 are 60 or older.
"Impala is continuing to assist the Department of Health with the vaccination of pensioners and community members who are over the age of 60 years," the company said.
It can vaccinate 1,000 people daily and has offered to assist other mines and industries in the area while supporting its surrounding community. It also plans to add two more vaccination sites.
Overall, private sector companies have the approval to administer Covid-19 vaccines out of 89 sites and can administer 24,300 vaccines each day, Business for South Africa said in a media briefing last week.
The mining industry alone has 44 sites planned, to administer 17,800 vaccines a day.