South Africa’s hospital cleaners at the front of the queue for the vaccine

24th of February 2021
South Africa’s hospital cleaners at the front of the queue for the vaccine

Hospital cleaners in Cape Town will be among the first healthcare workers to be inoculated when the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out.

A union-led campaign helped to clinch the decision to extend the vaccine roll-out to cover household and cleaning staff along with medical workers.

Nehawu's Western Cape provincial secretary Eric Kweleta said: "We have been consistent in appealing to the department that the term ‘front-line staff' should refer to every staff member working in the health sector.

"There is therefore no way that household and cleaning staff can be excluded in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine."

The vaccine programme for cleaners could be implemented in various stages, according to chief clinical officer of Mediclinic Dr Gerrit de Villiers. "For instance, we could start by vaccinating those who have direct patient contact, and then move on to those who have no direct contact with patients," he said.

"Approximately 2,500 housekeeping staff members have been included in our preparation for the vaccine roll-out."

Managing director of Cape Town-based cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean Emma Corder claims the role of housekeeping staff is among the most crucial in the healthcare industry.

"They need to safely dispose of waste and ensure that the hospital environment is clean, safe and ready to receive patients," she said.

Hospital cleaners have also been included in the list of healthcare workers to receive care packages from the Stellenbosch Unite group. Designed to ease the burden on front-line workers, the 991 care packages will also go to nurses, paramedics, porters, security guards, administrative offices, clinic workers and support staff.



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