In its continued efforts to support the province with its COVID-19 vaccination drive and serve communities, the Western Cape Government Health’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have launched a mobile vaccination project named, Vaxi Taxi. The core function and mandate of the project and team members is to combat societal disparities and serve community members. The project which could be described as a pop-up vaccination campaign, commenced on 4 September 2021, and to date 1 042 vaccines have been administered as a result of the community initiative.
EMS Vaxi Taxi: Community members waiting to be vaccinated at Makaza Kitchen in Khayelitsha.
During the preparation stage, each team member underwent thorough training. The EMS Vaxi Taxi program started out when the volunteers and EMS officials administered vaccinations at community soup kitchens, markets and whilst conducting home visits in various communities. Since early October, the team have partnered with the Department of Education and began vaccinating matriculants at schools in the province. Many matriculants have not been vaccinated yet and bridging the gap has become a priority to the team since the matric exams are fast approaching. Corporates have also partnered with EMS to ensure that employees are provided with the opportunity to receive their vaccinations. Amid the busyness of life, a team being sent to one’s workplace is ideal since not everyone is able to make it to a vaccination site during working hours or when there are important errands to run over the weekend.
“We are honoured to work alongside the rest of our health colleagues in taking the vaccine campaign to the streets. We see this as an important opportunity to build stronger relationships with our communities and, in so doing, help keep one another safe. I am also thrilled that we have the opportunity to team up with the Department of Education and corporate partners, and we look forward to providing more opportunities for vaccinations to communities in the Western Cape,” says Dr Shaheem De Vries, EMS Director.
Each Vaxi Taxi, mobile site consists of two ambulances (one is used as a primary vaccination section and the other as a secondary vaccination and resuscitation section), an equipped gazebo and tarpaulin (used as the observation areas) and an admin section for registrations and essential paper work. Intricate vaccine preparation and cold chain regulations are always adhered to.
The following vaccination precautions and mandatory processes are followed:
“We have been working with our community partners to identify locations to offer the COVID-19 vaccines in and our goal is to reach every corner of the Western Cape. The aim of the EMS Vaxi Taxi is to serve communities and ensure that it reaches as many individuals as possible, whether it be at their workplaces and educational institutions, meeting people where they are,” says Wayne Philander, EMS Vaxi Taxi Project Leader.
EMS Vaxi Taxi: Vaccine Prep team Shakirah Slamdien and Nico van Niekerk.