LOOK: Hundreds queue at Durban’s Moses Mabhida vaccine site
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DURBAN – Thousands braved the winter cold until the late evening to queue for the Covid-19 vaccine at Moses Mabhida Stadium’s People's Park.
The walk-in government vaccination site had a snaking queue of people waiting their turn for a first or second dose of the vaccine.
Senior citizens and those coming for a second dose were given priority.
Many people in the 35-49 age group were among those in the queue. When asked why they had not waited for August 1 when the roll-out for this age group was expected to begin, they had various responses.
“I saw on Twitter that this place was open and decided I am not going to wait. I have young children and I just want to get this done before I get sick, my parents were sick and survived and with the reports that it is affecting children I decided this was the perfect chance.”
Another person said: “I have a feeling that with the recent riots we are going to be asked to come back to work earlier to help my company recover, so I want to go back to work vaccinated. The 1st of August was just too far for me.”
Nurses at the site said on Saturday they had more than 1 000 people, and by late Sunday afternoon they had registered over 1 500. “We have enough vaccines and are grateful that people have been patient and waiting their turn and we have managed to attend to everyone,” said a nurse.
A warning for younger people wishing to jump the queue: alcohol consumption is prohibited for at least 72 hours after taking the vaccine and the strongest painkiller you are allowed is a headache tablet.
Meanwhile, experts said the recent riots and unrest in KZN and other parts of South Africa were a signal that people were desperate for basic services.
Dr Nicholas Crisp, the Department of Health’s deputy director-general: National Health Insurance, said: “KZN is an example of desperation for health care, among many other societal needs, which has to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Those in denial of the reality we face as a country just need to look around you.”
National Health Insurance is an ambitious universal health-care system aimed at providing equitable health access for everyone in South Africa.
“As things seem to be normalising we need to find a way to achieve equity and quickly,” said Crisp.
The Health Justice Initiative (HJI) released a statement recently saying it was gutted that during a pandemic with increasing rates of infection and deaths, lives had been lost due to what it said was instigated violence and unrest, “coupled with frightening factional politics fuelling instability in our country, which is also exploiting legitimate grievances”.
“This tragic and violent week has brought into sharp focus South Africa’s chronic hunger and unemployment challenges, its gross inequality and worrying levels of racism, ethnic tension, and xenophobia – issues that have been highlighted for many years by several organisations working closely on these issues.”
The HJI called on the government to meet civil society organisations to address immediate and long-term health needs and develop solutions to increase alternative ways to access essential medical care, chronic medicines and Covid-19 testing and vaccines.