Despite high Covid-19 infections, 31 521 (36%) out of 86 630 health workers employed by the Gauteng Health Department are not fully vaccinated.
This bombshell information was revealed yesterday (23 November) in a Gauteng Health Department presentation at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s health committee.
According to the Department, 55 109 (64%) of health workers are fully vaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic, 16 236 health workers have been infected with Covid-19, of whom 1908 had to be admitted to hospital and 111 died.
Ambulance staff have been badly affected, with 615 (24%) testing positive to date out of a total of 2544 Emergency Management Service (EMS) staff, with three deaths.
The Department blames the high number of staff declining vaccination on ‘false propaganda on social media. Approximately 15-20% of EMS staff do not want to take vaccine as they do not trust the vaccine.”
While the constitutional rights of people to refuse the vaccine need to be respected, there are compelling occupational safety reasons for health staff to be vaccinated as they have a higher risk of infection and could infect co-workers or patients.
The Western Cape Health Department is doing better in this regard with more than 76% of its employees vaccinated.
As we head towards a likely fourth wave of infection, more needs to be done to dispel vaccine misinformation in Gauteng, both amongst health workers and the general public.
This will save lives and ease the strain on our hospitals.