• Walk-in vaccinations for over 60s registered on the EVDS – but who do not have appointments – are being officially tolerated by the department of health.
  • Those over 80s, and with disabilities, should be accommodated even if they are not registered.
  • It is up to individual vaccine sites as to how they manage walk-ins, though they should give preference to those with appointments, says the man in charge of the appointment system.
  • But accepting people without appointments will "not be encouraged" very much longer, as the system settles down.
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The national department of health is tolerating – for now – vaccine sites that administer the Covid-19 vaccine to people older than 60 who simply walk in, without an appointment, said the deputy director general in charge of scheduling.

It is even grateful that those sites have taken it upon themselves to maximise the use of their vaccine doses, while the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) goes through teething trouble.

But accepting anything other than a very specific set of walk-ins will not be encouraged very much longer, Nicholas Crisp, who heads the EVDS, told Business Insider South Africa on Wednesday.

"We're asking that it be allowed for over 80s, but not encouraged," said Crisp, of people who arrive at vaccine sites not only without an appointment, but having not registered on the EVDS at all. "If some 80-year-old person has taken the trouble to come... it would be terrible to turn them away, the same with someone who is disabled. But those are exceptions."

Vaccine sites – which now largely have control over their own operating hours, and how they split their resources between healthcare workers and the public – started to accept walk-ins because of scheduling issues with the central system.

SMSes telling people when to go and where, should be going out two days in advance, said Crisp, but this did not happen initially. With scheduled recipients missing their appointments because of last-minute notifications, provinces and individual sites accepted walk-ins as a way to use doses already made ready.

Unofficial word of such instances has been steadily spreading.

"Ideally that is not the way to do it, but for now, while things are settling down, we are grateful that people are being vaccinated rather than [vaccine sites] putting vaccine back in the fridge," said Crisp.

As scheduling grows more predictable, walk-ins will "not be encouraged", he said.

In the interim, vaccine sites are being advised to set up separate queues for walk-ins, to ensure that those with appointments are inoculated first. 

Those who have successfully registered on the EVDS should have no trouble having their shots properly recorded, Crisp said, although sites that fall back on paper records – perhaps because of load shedding – may have a backlog in capturing that data.

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