Western Cape health authorities are scrambling to find innovative ways to encourage those over 60 who have not registered for their jabs to do so. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Western Cape health authorities are scrambling to find innovative ways to encourage those over 60 who have not registered for their jabs to do so. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Forty percent of Western Cape’s over 60s still not vaccinated, delaying herd immunity

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Jul 12, 2021

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Cape Town - Despite the vaccination net being widened to capture those over 35, the provincial health department has admitted that it is still having trouble convincing a large number of the over 60s in the province to get their jabs.

The provincial health authorities now say their biggest challenge with the vaccinations of the over 60s in the Western Cape is achieving herd immunity.

The province’s health department said: “We urge any citizen 60 years and older who has not registered, or has not received an appointment, to please present to their closest public sector vaccination site for assisted registration and vaccination. The first dose for 60-year-olds and older remains the highest priority at the moment.”

Out of a population of 719 651 people aged over 60 in the Western Cape, only 428 790 had registered for the vaccine by Friday.

By last Thursday only 348991 had received their first dose of the vaccination and at least 150 000 more are needed to get to herd immunity in that age group.

Provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete said that for this group to achieve herd immunity of 70%, at least 500 000 would need to be vaccinated.

“There’s two groups of people that get vaccinated – the ones that are willing and want to be vaccinated and then unfortunately there are those who are reluctant and have not come forward.

“Our strategy is to provide for both groups,” said Cloete.

There has been much more eagerness on the part of those in the 50-59 age group. In just the first five days of vaccination in the group which numbers 682 489 in the province 197 324 had registered by the end of last week.

By the end of last week, 71 000, or 10%, had received their vaccinations, the provincial department of health said.

Cloete said that having about 500 000 members of this age set vaccinated would achieve herd immunity for them.

Western Cape health authorities are scrambling to find innovative ways to encourage those over 60 who have not registered for their jabs to do so.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said: “We now need to go into areas to find where people are reluctant and work with local initiatives and find innovative ways of encouraging these people to be vaccinated so we can get herd immunity.”

“The department has identified communities with low registration and has been engaging them on several ways to access vaccination. Not only have we increased the vaccine allocations to the rural areas, but our teams have also pro-actively embarked on several initiatives to take vaccinations to the people.”

The legislature’s standing committee on health has joined the effort to achieve greater support among older residents, who remain among the most vulnerable to Covid-19.

Committee chairperson Wendy Philander (DA) said: “I will write to hospital boards and clinic committees where jabs are administered to enquire on the work they do to encourage these residents to receive the life-saving vaccinations.”

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