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Sisonke team rubbishes 'fake' WhatsApp message about vaccine free-for-all

CapeTalk logo CapeTalk 2021-05-13
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Reports have emerged online that some social media influencers and other members of the public have been receiving a WhatsApp message inviting them to get a vaccine at a clinic in Mitchell's Plain.

The message, which has been seen by CapeTalk, claims that there is an excess of Sisonke Johnson & Johnson vaccines that needed to be used by this weekend.

RELATED: 'All J&J vaccines imported for Sisonke trial must be used by Saturday'

It's alleged that some members of the public who received the fake message have been vaccinated, while others were inoculated after posing as healthcare workers on the vaccine registration system.

No extra Johnson & Johnson doses to give away

Professor Ian Sanne, who is part of the Sisonke leadership team, says the message was not sent by the programme or by the Health Department.

Sanne says there is no excess of Sisonke vaccines to be given away.

"We live in a social media environment and everybody can create a story. That one was not initiated by the Sisonke team and not initiated by the Department of Health", he tells CapeTalk.

Sisonke did not put the message out that we had expiring vaccines. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact the vaccine is well within parameters.

Professor Ian Sanne, Protocol leadership member - Sisonke J&J vaccine trial

We also did not put the message out that we are looking for all-comers to come to the site.

Professor Ian Sanne, Protocol leadership member - Sisonke J&J vaccine trial

I think that people are desperate... there's a sense of desperation that people would really like to get this vaccine now.

Professor Ian Sanne, Protocol leadership member - Sisonke J&J vaccine trial

Healthcare workers urged not to panic

At the same time, Prof Sanne says healthcare workers should not panic if they are not vaccinated before the final day of the Sisonke rollout on Saturday.

He says the remaining healthcare workers will be vaccinated as part of the Phase 1b and Phase 2 rollout which begins from Monday 17 May.

The professor had denied claims that the Sisonke vaccines are about to expire.

He explains that the Sisonke rollout has to be completed by Saturday 15 May in order to have over the electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) for the government's national rollout.

The Sisonke rollout has been vaccinating a broader category of healthcare workers, including researchers, admin staff, and hospital support staff.

As a result, Sanne says vaccine sites have been overwhelmed.

To avoid chaos, only healthcare workers who've received an SMS indicating their date, site and unique code should show up at vaccine sites, he adds.

What we did do is we opened the definition of healthcare workers when we saw that frontline healthcare workers in hospitals had been addressed, we opened up the platform to include healthcare workers in general as well as NPOs... and other categories of people that work in hospitals.

Professor Ian Sanne, Protocol leadership member - Sisonke J&J vaccine trial

In so doing, we created a substantive demand.

Professor Ian Sanne, Protocol leadership member - Sisonke J&J vaccine trial

It is not an expiry question, it's a supply and demand question, and we are trying to manage the demand very carefully to ensure that we complete the doses that are available.

Professor Ian Sanne, Protocol leadership member - Sisonke J&J vaccine trial

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive:

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