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STRATEGIES might be the reason why KwaZulu-Natal is one of the leading provinces in administering the vaccines, but Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said they were not where they wanted to be.
Simelane said they were worried because they thought they were below the number or target for vaccinations they had set for themselves.
They were also worried that senior citizens in townships and rural areas seemed reluctant to vaccinate due to various reasons, such as myths circulating among the elderly.
“Right from the beginning when we started vaccinating, we created far more vaccination sites than other provinces … we had started with 27 sites in the province.”
Simelane said firstly, they understood the vastness of the province but also understood that the majority of their people came from the previously disadvantaged communities. Therefore, half of them were poor and would not be able to travel very long distances.
They also implemented a strategy that did not just use their facilities as vaccinating sites but also the community centres and community halls, which were closer to the community so that the Health Department was easily accessible.
A third strategy was having outreach teams that went to communities and were able to vaccinate communities closer to where they lived.
The last strategy focussed on those who were home bound, bedridden or unable to go to the Health Department. Their outreach teams conducted home visits when requested so that they try to get as many as possible on the system.
“With all of those strategies that we are implementing, we think it is assisting us in getting the numbers that we have, but of course, we don’t think it’s enough, but we are working on that,” Simelane said.
In addition, she said 127 000 teachers were expected to be vaccinated in the province.
With vaccines expected to arrive yesterday, the second batch of teachers were expected to be vaccinated from today or tomorrow.
Premier Sihle Zikalala said the province had made significant progress in vaccinating its healthcare workers, senior citizens and teachers.
Zikalala said, as of Monday, 416 967 senior citizens, 130 546 health workers and 68 748 teachers have been vaccinated.
From a target of 955 000 senior citizens that need to be vaccinated, 553 279 have registered on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
“The number of vaccination sites that we have now prepared for the Pfizer vaccine is 359; whereas, for teachers, we have prepared 102 vaccination sites. All in all, we currently have 152 active sites for both vaccines,” Zikalala said.
“The province is now vaccinating an average of 12 000 people per day. We are intensifying vaccination of the elderly and also increasing capacity in our rural areas.”