Momentum Health Solutions announced its COVID-19 vaccine roll-out strategy and how it intends to support both its members, as well as the uncovered population, in being vaccinated. As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, a third wave is imminent, should the vaccination rollout not commence soon.
Speaking at a recent webinar held by Momentum Health Solutions, which focused on the roll-out of the vaccine, Dr Boshoff Steenekamp, Epidemiologist & Healthcare Strategist at Momentum Health Solutions said, “We need to ensure that South Africa reaches herd immunity, as this is our strongest line of defense against the virus. Having said this, this cannot be done with an individual mindset. It is only if we all come together that we have a greater chance of limiting the spread and hopefully eradicating the virus within the next few years.”
A vaccine is designed to provide immunity for approximately 1-3 years, however, the Coronavirus continues to mutate, with new strains being found across the globe. These strains escape immunity as they mutate and as such, many people need to be vaccinated as soon as possible in order to avoid further strains that may not be addressed by the current vaccines developed.
Damian McHugh, Executive at Momentum Health Solutions says, “To guarantee that Momentum Health Solutions can cover the cost of the vaccine for its members, it has ensured that it has a surplus in funds to cover the cost of the vaccine. The vaccine is considered a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) and will be covered in full by the scheme. Furthermore, Momentum Health Solutions is not only funding the vaccine for its members, but has ensured that it has mechanisms and funds in place to cross-subsidise citizens who are not part of a medical aid scheme. We believe that we are only safe as a society once the majority of citizens have been vaccinated.”
Momentum Health Solutions believes in access to quality healthcare for all and supports the notion that all South Africans should have equal access to the vaccine to save lives. This cannot be achieved without the support of its members.
With various challenges presenting themselves related to the distribution of the vaccine, such as adequate supply and the phased distribution, medical schemes are working tirelessly in supporting government to ensure that these stumbling blocks are eliminated. Momentum Health Solutions supports government in its phased approach that will see frontline health workers and high-risk citizens having first access to the vaccine, as part of the business’ commitment to ensuring that it provides more health, to more South African’s, for less.
“We have implemented robust strategies to ensure that the vaccine is given to as many people as possible. The intention is that once the vaccine is rolled out to the general public, it will be as simple as phoning your general practitioner and informing them that you would like to receive the vaccine, whereafter you will go to their practice and get vaccinated. We also expect to see employers registering to have vaccinations done on site, where they have occupational health facilities. We have already made the necessary preparations to assist employer groups in this initiative,” says McHugh.
Momentum Health Solutions will be making its facilities at employer sites available to the public to get vaccinated. “In an unprecedented situation such as this, speed is of the essence. We have a great deal of insight and data relating to what the various vaccine rollout phases entail, such as the health profiles of our members and which segments should be prioritized. We can use this data in supporting government in its phased approach,” explains Nomo Khumalo, Head of Solutions Design, Momentum Health Solutions.
It is expected that the first phase of the vaccine rollout will aim to vaccinate approximately 1.3million healthcare and frontline workers, while the second phase will focus on vaccinating essential service workers and people over the age of 60. This will equate to approximately 20 million people. In the third phase, government has committed to vaccinating the general population which amounts to approximately 22 million people.
“Our telemedicine tool, Hello Doctor, will be a useful platform to keep members, as well as non-members, informed on vaccination procedures and protocols. We expect that the general public will start receiving the vaccine from May or June, however, supply remains a challenge and thus, this is an estimate. Details regarding exactly when the vaccine will start being administered remains unclear at present,” says Khumalo.
As the virus continues to mutate and evolve, COVID-19 will continue to affect the daily lives of all South Africans. “We have seen how this virus mutates; this is how viruses survive. Immunity can only be achieved by being vaccinated. The sooner all people are vaccinated, the sooner we can ensure herd immunity. However, this will take some time. We are in for another few years of mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing – it is the only way we can overcome this,” says Steenekamp.
Momentum Health Solutions remains in a favourable position to support its members, as well as government due to the young age profile of its members. “There is no quick fix to a rollout of this scale. It is our hope that there is a proliferation of vaccines that can deal with the various strains and vaccinate all South Africans. We hope for more supplies and remain committed to supporting government and all members of society in the fight against COVID-19,” concludes McHugh.