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If you go to Dis-Chem you’ll probably get the Pfizer vaccine – but it will cost you R70

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Dis-Chem will administer the Pfizer vaccine at R70. (Photo by Deaan Vivier/Beeld/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

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  • A Pfizer Covid-19 shot will be available at Dis-Chem, but it will cost R70.
  • The R70 administration fee will be used to cover costs involved in capturing patients’ data, PPE, and supervision during the Pfizer vaccine waiting period.
  • Dis-Chem says it has the capability to vaccinate 800,000 people per month.
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As South Africa moves to the second phase of its vaccination programme – due to start on Monday – there will be a way to choose the type of vaccine – at a cost of R70.

Pharmacy retailer Dis-Chem has been allocated the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine because it has the ability to keep the doses at the required ultra-low temperatures, the government says.

That means selecting a Dis-Chem as the location to receive a vaccine will see you get the Pfizer shot, even though there are no plans to give South Africans a choice in which vaccine they receive.

A steady stream of Pfizer vaccine doses are due to keep arriving in South Africa, but the government has made no guarantees as to what the mix of vaccines may be in future, or where which type will be sent.

Pfizer said in April that its vaccine had been found to be 100% effective in South Africa, despite fears that the B.1.351 variant of the coronavirus may achieve vaccine escape. But other studies have suggested those who receive the Pfizer vaccine could still be at risk of breakthrough infection.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered to healthcare workers does not require extremely low temperature storage, and is given as a single dose, making it more suitable to the many government and non-specialised sites due to join some 3,000 points where injections are due to be given.

The R70 administration fee at Dis-Chem will cover costs involved in the verification process of patient details, personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, the preparation of the vaccines, and vaccine waste.

It will also be used for insurance, operating costs specific to vaccinations infrastructure dedicated to site establishments where the retailer will be injecting patients, Dis-Chem said.

The retailer said some of the costs would also be utilised for supervision during the post-vaccination waiting period.The Pfizer vaccine, a two-dose shot, is administered 14 days apart.

The government is racing to conclude the last phase of its vaccine rollout by February 2022. It began administering shots in February and focused on 1.2 million healthcare workers in the first phase. The rollout of the vaccines has been criticised for its slow pace, with only 455,169 people vaccinated since.

On Monday, 17 May, the government plans to commence its second phase of the vaccine rollout, focusing on more than 16 million people and prioritising older people and those with comorbidities.

On Friday, Dis-Chem said it would be able to begin vaccinating the public during the week of 24 May, at 11 out of 32 vaccination sites it has managed to secure at critical locations across the country.

On average, 600 vaccinations can be administered daily at the designated sites while up to 50 shots can be given at Dis-Chem’s in-store clinics, the company said in a statement.

Provided government stock is readily available, Dis-Chem says it would be able to vaccinate approximately 800,000 people each month.

Dis-Chem previously told Business Insider South Africa that it was planning on setting up vaccine sites inside shopping malls. It said it expects its role would expand as the various phases of the vaccination programme are implemented.

“Dis-Chem has negotiated with landlords to utilise empty premises in centres where the group has a retail pharmacy presence.  Each site has been fully equipped with all the required fixtures including refrigeration units, technology and emergency equipment to ensure a thorough and complete vaccine process,” said Dis-Chem.

“Pfizer stock has been allocated to Dis-Chem as the group has the necessary infrastructure to manage its extreme handling conditions. The vaccinators will be supported by a team of volunteers to regulate the flow of patients and manage the stringent administrative requirements,” the retailer said. 

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