Mining healthcare sites gear up to increase vaccine rollouts

25th June 2021 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Fifty-eight mining occupational health sites have applied to register as primary vaccination sites in terms of the protocols set up through Business for South Africa (B4SA), of which 21 have already received the required permits from the Department of Health (DoH) as the first step towards readying the sites for operation.

The first mining vaccination site to begin vaccinating was Impala Platinum, which started on May 24 – one of five workplace sites nationally selected by the DoH as a pilot site where the model for workplace vaccination is being tested. These sites also comprise sites besides the mining sector.

Four other companies have sites that more recently started administering vaccines, including Sasol, Thungela Resources, Harmony Gold and Sibanye-Stillwater.

In addition, a number of other candidate healthcare providers are preparing, or are ready, to operate as secondary sites in terms of that protocol.

Secondary sites are associated with particular primary sites, which could be one of the registered mine-based primary sites or a nearby registered pharmacy, hospital, clinic or general practitioner.

The Minerals Council of South Africa has continued to work closely with B4SA, and through it the DoH, towards establishing workplace vaccination sites as South Africa aims to ramp up its rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations.

The mining sector is seeking to ensure that its employees younger than 60 are able to be vaccinated as soon as national policy makes it possible.

It is envisaged that, subject to DoH approvals, some mine vaccination sites may extend their services to employees’ families and others in surrounding communities or provide support to community vaccination programmes.

All workplace sites have to meet detailed established minimum criteria to store vaccines and possess permits from the DoH to serve as accredited vaccination sites. Each site has to undergo a very detailed process as regulated and prescribed by the DoH to be registered.

All current and future approved vaccination sites will operate under the procedures of the DoH with respect to their registration, loading of workers’ details onto the Electronic Vaccination Data System, procurement of vaccines from government and the delivery of vaccination services according to the age categories determined by government.