Over 260 people were vaccinated at the Westgate Mall pop-up vaccination site on Thursday July 29, with many being over the age of 35.
However, Mitchell’s Plain still has the lowest rate of vaccine registration than the rest of the province.
Among the community members and shoppers were religious leaders at the mall from the community who came to get vaccinated and to encourage fellow Mitchell’s Plain residents to do the same, said Monique Johnstone, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Health.
Reverend Franklin Williams from House of Faith Ministries has been living in Mitchell’s Plain for the past 42 years. He is a Covid-19 survivor but has experienced the loss of loved ones and community members from the virus.
“The vaccine is going to save your life and will improve your immune system to help your body fight the coronavirus and from getting terminally ill,” says Pastor Williams.
Pastor Williams and Reverend Alistair Didloff from the African Methodist Episcopal Church who received his vaccine at the pop-up site, joined Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, to encourage people to register and to get vaccinated.
“The department is happy to see that the community is willing to receive the vaccine and we encourage the community of Mitchell’s Plain to register for the vaccine on the EVDS system and attend their local vaccination site where there are more vaccination stations to accommodate larger groups of people,” says Ms Johnstone.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde got vaccinated at the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre on Saturday July 31.
He waited 30 minutes with community members for his Pfizer vaccine at the centre in Eastridge. When he arrived, he stood in line with the community members also awaiting their vaccination shot.
“I chose to get vaccinated because I know that the vaccine is safe and highly effective, offering excellent protection against serious illness and death. I also know that by getting vaccinated I am playing my part in beating Covid-19, in saving lives, and in saving jobs in the Western Cape,” said the premier.
The past 16 months have been a time of great loss for many people, Mr Winde said, of both lives and livelihood.
“We now have an opportunity to bring it to an end, so that we can stop having to say goodbye to the people we love; so that we can stop having our ICUs stretched to capacity, and so that we can stop having lockdowns and restrictions that keep on taking away our jobs. This is how we fight back against Covid-19,” said Mr Winde.
The premier specifically chose to get vaccinated in the community of Mitchell’s Plain, using the special Saturday vaccination service offered by the Department of Health. This is because the community has had a lower rate of vaccine registration than the rest of the province, he said.
“Some of our residents are scared that the vaccine is not safe, that it was made too quickly, or that it might not work. I am here today to lead from the front and show that the vaccine is safe and that there is no reason to be afraid,” he said.
Ricardo Mackenzie, a member of the provincial legislature (MPL) for Mitchell’s Plain and who serves on the Mitchell’s Plain Hospital Board, said there is a concern for the hesitancy of the 50, 60 and older group to be registered and get vaccinated.
“The vaccines work, the vaccines help. Dr Mbombo visited Mitchell’s Plain on Thursday July 29 to encourage religious leaders to encourage their members to get vaccinated,” said Mr Mackenzie.
People should get vaccinated as soon as possible, he said. “If more of us are getting vaccinated, the less likely we risk going into a fourth wave. People want to get back to work, the economy can’t afford it. Fake news and misinformation is doing the rounds, but please ask the experts the questions, as the vaccines work,” said Mr Mackenzie.
He urged residents to do proper research from reliable sources if they are unsure about getting vaccinated. “Speak to a nurse at your local clinic or hospital and ask them to explain to you how it works,” said Mr Mackenzie.
Mr Winde said: “If you do so, you will see how vaccines are saving lives in countries around the world, keeping people out of the hospital, and allowing economies to open up and to grow again. We need the same in the Western Cape, and every person, from 18 years to 100 years old, has a role to play in making this happen. We are all in this together.”
Mr Winde thanked the healthcare workers for their selfless dedication over the past year and a half, and now, in rolling out this once-in-a-generation vaccination programme.
“Every day I am told beautiful stories about how our vaccinators are providing excellent, caring service, and this was my experience on Saturday. Thank you for all that you continue to do for our province. I now look forward to getting my second dose of the vaccine in six weeks’ time, so that I can get the best possible protection against serious illness, said Mr Winde.