Inequality is already a vaccine obstacle in Western Cape, says premier Winde

Dave Chambers Cape Town bureau chief
Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah are among Western Cape senior citizens who have been vaccinated. With them are premier Alan Winde and health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.
Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah are among Western Cape senior citizens who have been vaccinated. With them are premier Alan Winde and health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Access to Covid-19 vaccinations is already a “rich man, poor man” tale after less than two weeks.

No over-60s have registered for vaccination in some poorer areas of Cape Town and the Western Cape, while up to two-thirds of elderly people have registered in wealthy areas.

Now the Western Cape health department is sending teams into poorer areas to help older residents register in its attempts to have all over-60s vaccinated by the end of June so that work can start on the larger 40-59 age group.

Premier Alan Winde told a news conference on Wednesday that a new vaccination registration dashboard, which incorporates a registration “heat map”, was being used to identify areas where support teams would be deployed.

The Western Cape's vaccination registration dashboard highlights areas where people need help to sign up for the jab online.
The Western Cape's vaccination registration dashboard highlights areas where people need help to sign up for the jab online.
Image: Western Cape government

Head of health Keith Cloete said some vaccination sites in poorer areas where people did not have internet access would also be provided with registration facilities.

Overall, almost 300,000 over-60s about 40% of the total have registered for the vaccination in the Western Cape.

Cloete said provincial officials were working with their national counterparts to ensure that SMSes notifying people of their appointments would be sent a week in advance.

In response to complaints that people without appointments were arriving at the 51 public sector vaccination sites in the Western Cape and being vaccinated, Cloete said double-queuing systems were being implemented.

Those with appointments would receive priority and could expect swift and efficient service. “Walk-ins” could expect to spend several hours in another queue, with no guarantee of getting a jab. Cloete said it would depend on the capacity of the vaccination site and the supply of vials of the Pfizer vaccine on the day.

After setting a target for this week of 30,000 vaccinations in the Western Cape, Winde said the number achieved was likely to be 40,000.

Cloete said the target for next week was 60,000, doubling to 120,000 in the week beginning June 7, then increasing weekly until December. Fifty-three more public sector vaccination sites are due to open in the next two weeks, bolstered by “surge” sites and private sector sites.

He revealed that 134 fourth-year medical students from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) were being trained as vaccinators and would administer jabs from mid-June onwards for between four and six weeks. Another group from UWC would then replace them.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said about 55% of people in old age homes had been vaccinated.

Cloete said while there had been a clear resurgence in Covid-19 in the province, “it is not quite a third wave yet”.

Key indicators such as oxygen use, hospitalisations and test positivity rates were all rising, he said, and the SA-Covid-19 Modelling Consortium had recommended a “strong and quick behaviour response” to delay the third wave and reduce its peak.

The main reason it was vital to minimise the impact of the third wave, said Cloete, was to minimise any disruption of the vaccination programme.

He also revealed two recent clusters of new Covid-19 cases, one (11 cases) traced to a bachelor party and the other (21 cases) linked to a shelter for homeless people in Pelican Park, Cape Town.

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