'This is very worrying': Calls for assistance as poorer areas in Western Cape record low vaccination numbers

The Western Cape health department has called for help in getting older citizens to register online to receive their Covid-19 vaccination, particularly in poorer communities where turnouts are lower than in more affluent areas.

The Western Cape government has called on the public to assist in getting more older citizens registered to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Western Cape government has called on the public to assist in getting more older citizens registered to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Image: 123RF/ssilver

Poorer communities in the Western Cape are hardly turning up to receive their Covid-19 jabs.

Video footage sent to TimesLIVE from the Khayelitsha District Hospital showed empty chairs and nobody in the queue — even as vaccinators were ready and willing to administer the crucial shots.

The Western Cape health department has now called on the public to assist older citizens to register online to receive their Covid-19 vaccination, particularly in poorer communities where turnouts are lower than in more affluent areas.

“The truth is that we desperately need everyone’s help. The number of vaccination registrations in this age band is growing, but not fast enough,” said health spokesperson Mark van der Heever.

He said officials working at certain vaccination sites attributed the low turnout to access to technology.

“Our local teams have indicated that access to technology has been identified as a possible barrier, resulting in low registration numbers.

“We have identified these areas and through our local partnerships we have a multipronged approach to assist elderly to register. We know people need to register, but we can assist them at the hospital and then also give them their vaccination,” Van der Heever said.

He said that by Thursday, 9,358 people in the Khayelitsha substructure had been vaccinated.

“As part of our efforts we have now also launched a new campaign to drive vaccination registrations in the Western Cape called ‘6 minutes for the 60+’ that calls on our residents to give just six minutes of their time to register someone they care about who is 60 years old or older.”

In a statement released on Friday, Western Cape premier Alan Winde said registration for vaccination was lower in poorer communities compared to other areas.

“The main reason for this is the lack of access to the resources that would enable registration on the EVDS [Electronic Vaccination Data System].

“This is very worrying to me. Vaccines save lives, and every life must matter. No matter where you live, or what you earn. We must ensure a fair and equitable vaccination programme in our province,” Winde said.

He said he would engage the national government on ways to simplify the registration process to remove the barriers preventing those who cannot access smartphones or computers from registering to get the jab.

One Cape Town resident, who did not want to be named, sent footage to TimesLIVE within minutes of arriving at the Khayelitsha District Hospital as she was shocked to find long empty rows of plastic seats with nobody waiting to get a jab.

“My mother registered on the system but never received a message. So I took her to Lentegeur today (Friday) in the hope of getting a walk-in appointment. But there was a sign saying they aren’t taking walk-ins any more and there were many cars turning around and leaving.”

She added, “I then took her to the Khayelitsha District Hospital and there was literally nobody waiting.”

She said a few people who had already been vaccinated were doing the obligatory wait required after the jab, and when she spoke to one, she was told that the empty seats could be because many old people “do not have someone who can bring them” for the shot.

The resident said, “Maybe when they open the vaccines for younger people too, family members can accompany the elderly at the same time, but this whole idea that elderly people can go there on their own is not working.

“The likes of me and you are dying to get vaccinated so this is really sad to see. It is shocking how few people are there ... If this is a rollout, we will never vaccinate in 10 years,” the woman said.

Her mother said that the actual process of being vaccinated was quick and efficient and came as a relief since the old-age facility where she stays had been “phoning and phoning” to find out when the residents would hear when their appointments were.

TimesLIVE


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