What do you need to know?
"After months of waiting, many South Africans are looking forward to receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations. However, a vaccine rollout for 41 million adults is a complex project and there is understandably some confusion around the process".
It is important that a medical scheme can provide accurate and up to date information to its members when it comes to accessing their healthcare. It is for this reason that BCIMA is answering some of the most relevant vaccine-related questions that members may have at this time.
1. Have some medical schemes made special arrangements for vaccinating their members?
No. The South African Government is the only purchaser of vaccines and is therefore responsible for the sourcing, distribution and overseeing of the rollout in line with the national prioritisation framework. There is no preferential treatment being given to any medical scheme.
2. Can some scheme members choose where to receive their vaccination?
No. The Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) will direct you to a site selected for you, based on the location you enter in the system. Those on a medical scheme will be directed to a private sector vaccination site, while those without medical aid will be directed to a public sector vaccination site. Likewise, no vaccination site, whether private or public, may select whom they will vaccinate. In every case the EVDS makes the site selection. However, if some sites have overflow and another site has additional capacity, then some patients may be allocated to a different site.
3. Is everyone over 60 treated the same?
Yes. In Phase 2 anyone age 60 years and over as well as healthcare workers who have not yet been vaccinated as part of Phase 1, are eligible to receive their vaccine. However, whether you are 61 or 95 it makes no difference to how you are prioritised on the EVDS.
4. I have heard that some sites are accepting walk-ins, how does this work?
A “walk-in” is a person arriving at a site to be vaccinated without an appointment set up by the EVDS. While walk-ins are discouraged, for practical reasons some sites are currently accepting walk-ins. For example, some sites may have spare vaccines for the day if people with appointments have not shown up, and a site may therefore accept some walk-ins. The situation is inconsistent at present and has been causing much confusion with some sites allowing walk-ins and others not.
If sites do accept walk-ins, they may only do so for people age 60 years and over and they must give priority to people who have scheduled appointments set up by EVDS. Furthermore, they must make sure they have enough vaccines to vaccinate all the people with appointments before they allow walk-ins. This means that people hoping to be vaccinated without an appointment set up by the EVDS, are often turned away after lengthy waiting periods. Those taking a chance will only further overload sites struggling to cope with heavy volumes. Given the high number of people with scheduled appointments, it is possible you will be turned away if you have not received your scheduled appointment by SMS from the EVDS.
5. Will everyone have the chance to be vaccinated?
Yes. Sufficient vaccines have been secured to vaccinate the entire adult population of South Africa. Though some people are choosing not to be vaccinated, all have been provided for and a total of 41 million vaccines have been secured.
All healthcare workers, as well as individuals age 60 years and over, are eligible to register and receive their vaccine, should they wish to do so.
Here’s what to do, step-by-step:
1. Before registering, make sure you have your ID and medical scheme information handy.
2. Register on the national Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) via one of the following channels:
· Online – visit https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za
· WhatsApp – send the word REGISTER to 060 012 3456
· Free mobile communication – on any South African network dial *134*832*IDNumber# or simply dial *134*832# if you do not have an ID number
· Toll-free national hotline – call 0800 029 999 between 08:00 and 18:00, seven days a week
3. Follow the simple eight-step registration process.
4. REMEMBER to state that you are on a medical scheme and provide your medical scheme membership number. Your medical scheme will cover the cost of your vaccination and you will not have to pay for it.
5. Wait to receive an SMS notification from the EVDS regarding the date, time and place of your vaccination.
Should you encounter any issues with your registration process please call the national toll free hotline on 0800 029 999.
BCIMA strongly advises all scheme members who have registered to wait until they have received their SMS notification from the EVDS with their vaccine appointment details before visiting a vaccination site.