Covid-19 vaccine roll-out may not be reaching those who need it most, says former Health Department head
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DURBAN – Dr Yogan Pillay, Country Director for the South Africa Clinton Health Access Initiative – says although he is happy with more than 9 million South Africans having been vaccinated, the issue of access and equity is worrying.
Pillay, who is also a senior global director for Universal Health Coverage, said: “There are simply too many people in the private sector being vaccinated compared with those in the rural areas. The whole point of focusing on people over 60 first was that they were, and remain, the most vulnerable.”
He told The Mercury that the Health Department shared the same concern that the country’s older population was being left behind.
“Perhaps we have not done enough to allay the fears of the elderly. And also the registration on the EVDS system, and other socio-economic barriers such as transportation, could be the reason for the older population being left behind. We are not safe until we are all safe.
“This is not just a problem in South Africa. In the US there also seems to be resistance by the older population. We have to make it easier for them by increasing communication and accessibility. There is a big discussion globally whether we may need to eventually consider making vaccination mandatory,” said Pillay.
He added that social media posts had not made the process easier.
“Social media is good, if it is used right. It can also be bad when the platform is used to circulate the wrong information.
“As we gain momentum on the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out programme, we may need to stress the importance of the younger generation to support the vaccine roll-out process.”