Ensuring homeless aren’t forgotten in vaccine drive

By Athandile Siyo Time of article published Jun 11, 2021

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SHELTERS for the homeless are working with the provincial departments of social development and health in ensuring that the people in their care and on the streets are vaccinated as soon as possible.

This as the country is currently busy with phase 2 of the vaccination roll-out, which is directed at people over 60 years old.

Haven Night shelter chief executive, Hassan Khan, said that homeless people who are currently in shelters are being registered and receiving vaccinations.

“We are awaiting directions on how to deal with undocumented possible applicants. Shelters do assist with acquiring ID documents as part of their service offering.

“People on the street are also assisted to register and obtain ID documents as part of our outreach,” said Khan.

The department of health said that vaccinating homeless people is managed on an individual basis by shelters themselves, who contact the local health team doing outreaches.

Spokesperson Mark Van Der Heever said: “As part of this our health teams also visit and do outreach to old age homes and congregate settings. Several registration drives are taking place across the province, and we encourage people who are over 60 to take up these opportunities to be registered. It is important for everyone to register to receive their vaccination. Anyone who meets the criteria will be assisted. The Western Cape Government has also opened 75 Cape Access Centres to assist residents with registration and we encourage those who do not have the means to visit these centres for assistance.”

Van Der Heever said that more sites would be opened where people can go for registration and vaccination.

Meanwhile, the province and City said they have reached a joint agreement to turn the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) into a mass vaccination site.

In a statement on Thursday they said funding was secured and that formal contracts were due to be signed with the CTICC, followed by the implementation which would be done within the next three to four weeks.

Mayor Dan Plato said: “The City of Cape Town began preparation for the site in March 2021. Work included project management, concept design, and costing. These plans were shared with the provincial government who, after several engagements with the City, made the decision to utilise the CTICC in this regard.”

Premier Alan Winde added that the site will be able to vaccinate over 4 000 people a day and will have up to 50 vaccination stations, each capable of administering 100 vaccinations per day.

When the Cape Times asked why was the CTICC not considered for accommodating the homeless in one of its sections, instead of the Strandfontein sports complex last year, Plato’s office said: “The CTICC was earmarked as a field hospital for Covid-19 patients during the first wave of coronavirus infections in 2020, and was subsequently used for this purpose.”

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