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Poorer communities struggle to register for vaccination...

South Africa

VACCINE ROLL-OUT

Poorer communities struggle to register for vaccinations, says Western Cape health department

Western Cape Health Department head Keith Cloete told provincial legislators that people in ‘socioeconomically deprived areas’ were unable to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System because they could not access the system without Wi-Fi. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

Poorer communities need help accessing the Electronic Vaccination Data System to get the Covid-19 vaccine, says Western Cape Health Department head, Dr Keith Cloete.

People in poorer communities in the Western Cape have lower rates of registering for the Covid-19 vaccine because they cannot access the registration system.

This was said by Western Cape Health Department head Dr Keith Cloete when he and the department appeared before the Western Cape legislature’s ad hoc committee on Covid-19 on Tuesday.

But the issue of the day was the Phase Two vaccination roll-out for those over the age of 60.

The province aims to vaccinate nearly 720,000 people over the age of 60 across 204 sites by 30 June. Before a vaccine is administered, applicants have to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) to receive an appointment.

Cloete told the provincial lawmakers that people in “socioeconomically deprived areas” were unable to register on the EVDS because they could not access the system, while people living in more affluent areas could register because they had access to amenities such as Wi-Fi.

Cloete said that in Colorado Park, Mitchells Plain, 100% of elderly residents had registered, but in the nearby suburb of Browns Farm, Philippi, only 4.5% of elderly residents had registered. He said this was because there were many more Wi-Fi spots in Mitchells Plain than in Philippi.

It was the same in the rural areas of the province, said Cloete, adding that more efforts were required from the government to support communities that did not have access to infrastructure in order to register.

By 5pm on Monday, 24 May there had been 14,048 vaccinations under Phase 1b (health workers) and Phase 2a (those over the age of 60). In total, the province has vaccinated 107,201 people.

Dr Cloete said lessons learnt from this process included:

  • Better infrastructure was needed to reduce queues and waiting times, and weather conditions needed to be taken into account.
  • Sites had reported large numbers of walk-ins, despite messages that walk-ins would not be accommodated.
  • Some sites made allowances for on-site registration.
  • There were instances of those under 60 registering as healthcare workers so they could get vaccinated. Last week, there were anecdotes on social media about queue jumping by those under 60. News24 reported that the government has shut down the EVDS registration process to tighten it after reports of queue jumping.

Cloete urged residents to assist those unable to register for vaccination. Premier Alan Winde has also called for residents to help others to register. In addition, the provincial government has made public libraries in the province available to assist with the registration process.

On Tuesday, Winde announced the EVDS registration site would be zero-rated in the province’s public Wi-Fi spots.

“By zero-rating this website, a greater number of people from across the province will be able to register for their vaccines, regardless of whether they live in rural settings or have limited access to the internet,” said the premier.

According to the latest figures (1pm on Tuesday, 25 May), there are 3,421 confirmed active Covid-19 cases in the province. There have been 292,148 confirmed Covid-19 infections across the province, with 276,962 recoveries and 11,765 Covid-19-related deaths. DM

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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