SOUTH AFRICA – A new website has been launched to help South Africa’s healthcare workers, who participated in the Sisonke study, find their nearest Covid-19 vaccine sites administering booster Johnson & Johnson jabs.
South Africa’s vaccine rollout began in February with the Sisonke study. Healthcare workers were prioritised and received the single-dose J&J vaccine. Now, more than nine months later, Sisonke2 offers these healthcare workers a second dose of the J&J vaccine as a booster shot to counter waning immunity.
These booster doses are available to nearly 500,000 people who received their first J&J jabs between February and May. Recent data cited by J&J revealed that a booster shot administered six months after the first jab provided a 12-fold increase in antibodies, thereby dramatically increasing the vaccine’s efficacy.
Healthcare workers have been urged to get their booster jabs before the fourth wave of Covid-19 which is expected in December. Co-lead investigator of Sisonke and President of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Professor Glenda Gray, recently said time was limited and that Sisonke2 had “until 15 December to vaccinate almost half a million healthcare workers.”
To drive the booster programme and connect healthcare workers to vaccination sites administering the second dose of J&J, the National Department of Health (NDoH), with support from health NGO Right to Care, has developed FindMyJab.co.za.
This Geographic Information System (GIS) web-based app helps healthcare workers find their nearest vaccine sites administering booster J&J vaccines.
Participants of the first Sisonke study will receive an SMS invitation to participate in Sisonke2. After providing informed consent, a new vaccination voucher number, starting with the letters BD for Booster Dose, will be provided. Participants can then find and access their nearest operational vaccine site through FindMyJab.co.za.
“FindMyJab.co.za can be accessed from any device. Only vaccination sites administering the J&J booster jabs are reflected,” said Dr Dorman Chimhamhiwa, head of Right to Care’s GIS and planning unit.
“On FindMyJab.co.za you enter your location and a list of sites closest to you pop up. Each site shows its name, address, contact information and operating hours. Once you select your preferred site, click to receive directions. FindMyJab.co.za also reflects new and pop-up sites over weekends in real time.”
And while booster jabs are currently only available to healthcare workers who participated in the Sisonke study before 15 May, FindMyJab.co.za is expected to be rolled out to the general public in the near future.
“The platform is expected to be scaled for South Africa’s public vaccine programme and is made possible with support from USAID,” noted a statement issued on Wednesday.
Around 13.5 million people living in South Africa – or 22% of the total population – have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at the time of publication.