Taking vaccine registration to the streets
The Western Cape Government Health’s team from the Klipfontein and Mitchells Plain Substructure with support by the Department of Local Government and YMCA Cape Flats Community Health Care Workers, took to the streets of Beacon Valley in Mitchells Plain to provide door-to-door vaccine registration services to vulnerable community members aged 60 years 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 Ms Monique Johnstone, Communications Officer for the Department of Health.
According to the Department’s Provincial Vaccine Dashboard, Mitchells Plain has a population of 47 229 elderly community members over 60 years old, but only approximately 28% of the elderly 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 in the communities are still fearful to take the vaccine due to the insurmountable level of fake news being broadcasted on social media. They do not have sufficient knowledge of the vaccine, they are being discouraged by family members to register, they are afraid of dying, having side effects or too afraid of the actual syringe and generally scared as they have multiple chronic illnesses and fearful that the vaccine might create additional health complications.
The Department is aware of these concerns and reached out to vulnerable communities via the door-to-door campaign to listen to the concerns and allay their fears with factual information about the vaccine. “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 members over 60 who were resistant to take the vaccine from Beacon Valley, allowed government officials to register them on EVDS and encouraged them to wait for their booked confirmation SMS before proceeding to their nearest vaccination site.
Enid Petersen (64) from Beaconvale, Mitchells Plain had minimal knowledge of the vaccine but agreed to register after she received information from the Community Development Workers and the Health 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 Enid.
“I was also not going to take the vaccine, but after listening to one of the learned scholars who stated that when he was young, his mother took him for all the different vaccines as he was growing up and now he is going for the COVID-19 vaccine as well. This is when I decided to register for the vaccine with the Health Officials,” said Mogamat Kassiem Bester (60) from Beacon Valley, Mitchells Plain.
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 2021. 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. These SMSs will be coming in greater numbers as more vaccines become available and more sites are opened. The Department will prioritise our booked clients first before assisting walk-ins and cannot guarantee that walk-ins will receive a vaccine on the day they present to a vaccination site. We also encourage everyone who is 60 or older to please register for your vaccine. If you are not yet 60, please help someone who is. We are all in this together.
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.
We also all need to continue with our preventative measures to keep safe from being infected with COVID-19. Always wear a mask when in public, avoid large gatherings and confined spaces with poor ventilation. In addition, please reconsider non-essential travel. It is also very important to not go for the vaccination if you have symptoms of COVID-19, as you will not be vaccinated at the site and you risk compromising the safety of others.
Remember you can register 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 our website, www.westerncape.gov.za.
Useful facts about the vaccine:
- You will get an injection in your upper arm.
- The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is given as two doses 42 days apart. An appointment will be given by the Department to return for the second dose.
- Protection starts around two weeks after the first injection but is best two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
- All COVID-19 vaccines being used have been tested many times to ensure safety and were created to check for any common side effects.
- Common side effects are pain and redness in the upper arm where you are injected, headache, and feeling unwell, tired, and feverish. These side effects start around 6 hours after the vaccine, peak at 24 hours and usually resolve within 2-3 days. You can use paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory if you need to.
- Several common vaccine side effects are like COVID-19 symptoms. If you experience a mild fever, aching muscles, headache, or fatigue, this is likely due to your body’s reaction to the vaccine. If you develop a cough, sore throat, a change in your sense of taste or smell, or you have a fever over 38°C that lasts several days, you might have COVID-19 and should isolate yourself and have a test.
- If you have an underlying medical condition or chronic illness, you have a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Because of this, you should consider getting vaccinated.
- Anticoagulant medications (like warfarin) as with any injection, there is a small risk of bleeding at the injection site. If you are up to date with your scheduled international normalised ratio (INR) testing and your latest INR was below the upper threshold of your therapeutic range, you can receive the vaccination safely. The rare clotting condition described following the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is bought about through different pathways to usual clotting problems. People with usual clotting problems are at increased risk of developing clots during infection with COVID-19 and are urged to take up vaccination. If you have any concerns speak to your usual healthcare provider or vaccination site staff.
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