Local hairdresser makes salon a pop-up vaccination site to protect her business
Madelaine Smal, a local hairdresser in Caledon in the Overberg District, decided that COVID-19 would not be the reason that the doors of her hair salon close again. This is why, when COVID-19 vaccinations became available, she decided to play an active role in getting her staff, clients, and community vaccinated.
Being a small business owner for the past sixteen years, Madelaine says she has never experienced anything as bad as the COVID-19 pandemic, which during lockdown level five and part of level four, closed her doors for three months. She explains that as a single parent she is dependent on her business for an income to support herself and her daughter. This, along with protecting her clients, is how her small business became a venue for a pop-up vaccination site.
“About 80% of my clientele are older people with chronic illnesses so when I decided to get vaccinated, I did it not only for me and my business, but also to protect my clients. I feared giving my clients COVID-19 and did all I could in my business to protect them. I lost five of my clients and a family member to COVID-19 and I was not prepared to lose more,” Madelaine shares.
“I noticed that the mobile clinic visits the communities that we stay in but not the places that we work at, and our lunchtimes are rarely long enough to visit a vaccination site on the other side of town. I decided to approach one of my clients who works for the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness, and she arranged that my business become part of the mobile clinic’s route,” explains Madelaine.
“Initially I convinced my staff to get vaccinated and then moved on to my clients, staff from businesses around me, and my friends. I even approach people walking by to get vaccinated and advertised on my social media pages,” she recalls. Madeleine also made arrangements with businesses in the town to host vaccination pop-up sites and at certain points in the community while working with the Department of Health and Wellness. “Sister (Sr) van Aarde and her vaccination team have been extremely patient with me and my vaccination drive, they went where I asked them to go and have always waited patiently for the people who wanted to get vaccinated,” says Madelaine.
“Since I started the vaccination drive, I can happily report that not one of my clients have contracted COVID-19.”
Director for the Department of Health and Wellness in the Overberg District, Wilma Kamfer says, “As a health service manager I am excited that people like Madeleine is making COVID-19 her business to protect her hair salon and prevent it from closing due to COVID-19 again. Getting our communities protected and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic is everyone’s business.”
Madelaine is passionate about her community, she understands their needs and used this to her advantage when she decided to become a vaccine ambassador. Vaccines remain the best defence against COVID-19, you can support your communities and families by encouraging them to get their COVID-19 vaccinations and booster doses.”
“COVID-19 is not something of the past and we need to realise that it doesn’t just affect strangers, but it can affect us and the people we love. I will continue to encourage my clients and loved ones to get vaccinated and get their booster shots. Although we are no longer required to wear masks, I still encourage my older, more vulnerable clients to wear their masks when they go into crowded shops or public spaces,” says Madelaine.