HEALTH workers expressed relief and happiness as they lined up to get their dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in KZN. The workers saw this as the beginning of new hope as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine finally arrived in the province, under heavy police guard at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital.

A total of 100 health workers, including doctors and nurses, got their vaccination at the hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban, on Thursday.

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu both officially launched the vaccine.

Speaking at the hospital, Zikalala said in KZN, the vaccines had arrived at Prince Mshiyeni and Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospitals. He said Albert Luthuli received 5 760 vaccines while Prince Mshiyeni received a total of 5 040.

“In both hospitals, health workers from private and public institutions will be vaccinated,” he said.

He added that the distribution will be according to the high number of infections in a facility.

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“So, we are starting with the hospitals with the highest infections,” he said.

Simelane-Zulu said residents had been educated about the vaccine through the programmes that the department held.

“A lot of people were not happy as many fake news circulated. So through our programmes, we managed to educate them. We answered all their questions, and believe that they now know and are aware of the vaccine,” she said.

She added that the vaccine would be just one dose, with no need for a second one.

After receiving the first vaccine, Dr Nerika Maharaj (45), who works at the Covid-19 ward in Prince Mshiyeni, said this was the beginning of new hope.

“We’ve lost a lot of colleagues from Covid-19. I’m happy that today we’re receiving the vaccine that will save lives,” she said.

She said she did not experience any side effects.

“The needle was very small. I didn’t feel any pain. I encourage other people to take the vaccine,” she said.

Nurse Sithembile Blose from Umlazi D Clinic, who was waiting in line to get vaccinated, said she was excited.

“I got infected with Covid-19. It was so painful and I thought I was going to die. But fortunately I survived. So as the vaccine has arrived, I’m relieved especially as we’ve heard that the third wave is coming,” she said.

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Another nurse, Thokozani Biyela, said this was a dream come true.

“I trust that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would prevent Covid-19. This will save many lives. A lot of our colleagues died due to Covid-19. I wish it had arrived earlier in order to save all the lives that were lost,” she said.

Nurses union Denosa’s provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu said they welcomed the vaccine as it would save the lives of workers.