Community healthcare workers bridge vaccine knowledge gaps in COVID-19 fight
Community healthcare workers have been on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 and play a critical role in saving lives. At the start of the pandemic, it meant assisting with contact tracing, while continuing to provide much-needed home-based care and social services to residents.
Now, they take on the vaccination rollout programme by providing health education and information on the vaccine to communities, to counter misinformation.
Letischa Slabb is a health worker in Elsies River and goes from door-to-door every day to deliver medication from the local day hospital to patients with chronic conditions. She works for NPO Tehillah Community Collaborative, which closely works with primary healthcare facilities (day hospitals) to provide support to the communities. Letischa says she has heard many stories about the vaccine but decided to get her shot to protect herself and the community she serves. Before delivering medication, she attaches a vaccine information sheet to share with residents.
“I believe that you need to do your own research about the vaccine, don’t believe everything you read or see on social media. Part of my job includes vaccine education, I want to encourage our community to consider taking the vaccine when we get to phases two and three. Take your health into consideration, listening to the next person could mean that you miss out on the opportunity to protect yourself. Remember that everyone’s symptoms differ. It’s important to educate yourself and to make up your own mind.”
Her colleague Elzita Phillips is a COVID-19 survivor who also got her vaccination as part of the phase one rollout for health care workers. Elzita recalls feeling emotional when she contracted the virus last year. She remained hopeful and is grateful that she has now received her vaccination.
“I heard stories about the vaccine and what would happen if I took it, but I am a positive person and I had faith. As a COVID-19 survivor, I decided to take the vaccine to protect me. I also want to show others that nothing bad happened to me. I was fortunate to have no symptoms.”
Before providing healthcare to residents, Elzita screens a community member for COVID-19 and shares information on the vaccine.
“It’s important that we screen residents and share any new information on the virus and vaccine with them. The more we share, the more we learn.”
Tehillah founder nursing Sr Magda Klein has a heart for her community and has encouraged residents to help them fight the COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 survivor received her vaccination shot.
“I had my doubts initially but as a leader, I did my research and got the vaccine. I heard stories about the vaccine, but I am still here, and I am healthy and I am over 60 years old, serving my community. I had no side effects, remember every person could react differently. I am a lifesaver, I started this organisation and I never imagined we’d be fighting this virus today.”
Sr Klein has appealed to residents to learn the facts about the vaccine and to continue wearing their masks.
“It’s really important that we educate residents so that they can help us fight COVID-19. We can’t let our guards down now. We’ve been fighting COVID-19 since last year and while the community waits for the vaccine, we need to still follow the rules, don’t forget to wear your mask, sanitise your hands and to keep a distance from others, even after you get vaccinated.”
Western Cape Government Health thanks all our community healthcare workers for their service to our communities especially as we continue to fight the Coronavirus. We encourage the public to avoid breaking physical distancing rules. Continue to wear your mask, sanitise your hands regularly and stay home when you’re sick.