Grocery voucher with vaccination rolled out to over-50s

Uptake slow so far, says concerned health department

There are still more than 4-million people aged 50 and older who have not been vaccinated. The health department hopes a grocery voucher incentive can help entice them. Stock photo.
There are still more than 4-million people aged 50 and older who have not been vaccinated. The health department hopes a grocery voucher incentive can help entice them. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/kwangmoo

South Africans over the age of 50 who receive their first vaccination against Covid-19 can now receive a grocery voucher with their jab.

This was announced by the national department of health.

There are still more than 4-million people aged 50 and older who have not been vaccinated, and the department hopes the voucher incentive will help entice them.

Previously, the offer of R100 grocery vouchers for first-dose vaccinations was only available to those aged 60 and older.

Almost two-thirds of people over 60 have been vaccinated, but there is concern the remaining third may be particularly hard to reach or to persuade.

The department said its immediate priority is to vaccinate as many people over 50 ahead of the anticipated fourth wave, because more than 80% of Covid-19 related deaths have occurred in this age group.

“Three in five people aged 50 and older have had at least one dose of vaccination and reaching most of the remainder will substantially reduce the number of hospitalisations and deaths over the festive period and into the new year,” it said.

Uptake of the “Vooma vouchers,” redeemable at the Shoprite group of food retailers, has been disappointingly slow among the over-60s so far, however.

This pilot was to gauge the potential effect of small, guaranteed incentives to encourage people to vaccinate — especially those for whom travel and related costs might be a barrier, said the department.

“Unfortunately, the uptake of Vooma vouchers has been poor, with only 8,135 redeemed to date. We have also not seen a significant uptick in vaccinations among over-60s,” said Dr David Harrison, national lead for demand acceleration.

“We are trying to understand the reasons for this slow uptake. We are only two weeks in and it may be that the message takes time to filter down to everyone. But we don’t have the luxury of time with the fourth wave approaching and must adapt our strategy quickly if it doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect.

“For older people in particular, vaccination may determine whether families spend their festive season visiting relatives in hospital or even attending funerals.”

TimesLIVE


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