A healthcare worker attends to a Covid-19 patient at Arwyp Medical Centre in Kempton Park, Johannesburg in this file photo. Picture: REUTERS/SHAFIEK TASSIEM
A healthcare worker attends to a Covid-19 patient at Arwyp Medical Centre in Kempton Park, Johannesburg in this file photo. Picture: REUTERS/SHAFIEK TASSIEM

The coronavirus vaccines administered in the Western Cape are providing strong protection against severe illness and death from Covid-19 among healthcare workers and the elderly, according to data released by the provincial health department on Thursday.

The risk of death from Covid-19 was 3.3 times higher among unvaccinated public-sector healthcare workers compared to vaccinated staff, according to its analysis of its employees registered on the government personnel and salary system, Persal. The risk of death was 1 in 480 among unvaccinated healthcare workers compared to 1 in 1,490 among staff who were fully immunised.

Analysis of Covid-19 cases among patients aged 60 years and older for the week of August 14-20 yielded similar results. By that stage, 270,619 of the 720,000 people aged 60 years and older in the Western Cape were fully immunised. Among the 2,455 coronavirus cases recorded in this age group in the week under review, 92% were unvaccinated; 699 of the 729 hospital admissions (96%) were not immunised; and 287 of the 292 deaths (98.3%) were among people who had not been inoculated.

“This sends a very powerful message about the effectiveness of the vaccines,” said Western Cape health department COO Saadiq Kariem.

The Western Cape health department considered people to be fully immunised 28 days after receiving the single shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, or two weeks after receiving their second shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

The Western Cape has vaccinated 1.68-million adults so far, or 33.8% of the target population. Coverage is highest among the 720,000 people aged 60 years and oldere, with 55% of them fully immunised, and 64% having received at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as of September 6. The province aims to administer at least 200,000 doses a week, and is hoping to have at least 70% of people aged 50 years and above fully immunised by December, and for at least 70% of younger adults to have received at least one Pfizer shot.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde said the province continually assessed demand at its vaccination sites. Sites with low uptake had been closed and services moved to areas with higher demand, and officials were considering extending the operating hours of some sites, such as the Athlone stadium drive through, to accommodate people seeking jabs after work.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za

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