Taking vaccine registration to the streets

Members of the Department of Health’s social mobilisation team, local government community development workers and YMCA Cape Flats community health workers.
Department of Health officials, Anthea Abrahams and Andile Zabeko register Mogamat Kassiem Bester on EVDS.

The provincial health department’s team from the Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain Substructure, with the support of local government and YMCA Cape Flats community health care workers, took to the streets of Beacon Valley to provide door-to-door vaccine registration services to residents aged 60 and older.

“The aim was to increase the number of vaccine registrations on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) and create awareness and listen to concerns from people who had reservations about the vaccine,” said Monique Johnstone, communications officer for the Department of Health.

According to the department’s provincial vaccine dashboard, Mitchell’s Plain has about 47 229 residents who are over 60 years old, but only 28% of them have registered to receive the vaccine.

“Various strategies such as the department’s door-to-door campaign in areas where the registration rate is low are being planned and implemented to get as many elderly community members registered for the vaccine and in turn share factual information with them about the vaccines to allay their concerns and fears,” said Ms Johnstone.

Many people, she added, were fearful to take the vaccine due to fake news being broadcast on social media or because they are being discouraged by family members, are afraid of side effects or too afraid of the actual syringe.

Others, who have multiple chronic illnesses are fearful that the vaccine might create additional health complications.

“There is a lot of scientific evidence that the vaccination gives us protection against the coronavirus. Being vaccinated can save many of us from becoming very sick with the disease and is used to train our immune system to be able to deal with an infection and fight it off in the future,” said Ms Johnstone.

After listening to the officials, 138 elderly Beacon Valley residents who had been reluctant to take the vaccine, eventually allowed government officials to register them on EVDS.

Enid Petersen, 64, from Beaconvale, had minimal knowledge of the vaccine but agreed to register after she received information from the community development workers and the health department officials.

“I don’t have a phone and I never knew much about the vaccine, but after the ladies spoke to me, I decided to register and the workers helped my granddaughter register me with her cellphone,” said Ms Petersen.

“I was also not going to take the vaccine, but I decided to register for the vaccine with the health officials,” said Mogamat Kassiem Bester, 60, from Beacon Valley.

Department of health officials from the Khayelitsha and Eastern Substructure also registered more than 900 over 60-year-olds in the community who access services at the Site B Community Health Centre as part of their outreach social mobilisation campaign between May and June. These outreaches will continue to increase to reach as many elderly members who are eligible to receive the vaccination for their health and safety.

The officials encouraged the communities to wait for their second SMS after registration, as it will enable the vaccination sites to operate more efficiently.

People who have received their second SMS with their appointment details will be prioritised at vaccination sites. If you go to a vaccination site without receiving your second SMS, you will have to wait and your vaccination is dependent on vaccine availability. If you receive a booking outside of your area, and are at no means to access these sites, please contact the Provincial Call Centre on 0860 142 142 to arrange to access a vaccination site closer to home.

You can register for the vaccine at no cost by using the USSD service dial *134*832# from your phone to start the registration process or send the word “REGISTER” to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp, or visit http://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za

You can also access this link on www.westerncape.gov.za