Registration for 35-49 age group to get the Covid-19 vaccine opens
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DURBAN - REGISTRATION for those in the 35-49-year-old age group to get Covid-19 vaccines opens today, with vaccinations expected from August 1.
However, while people will be able to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System, it is unclear when the vaccination roll-out programme will resume in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Department of Health announced the closure of vaccine sites in KZN until further notice because of the spate of riots and looting in the province, which included at clinics and hospitals.
Dr Ronald Whelan, chief commercial officer at Discovery Health, said the medical scheme welcomed the announcement that the vaccine programme was being expanded to another age-group.
“This will significantly accelerate the number of vaccinations administered on a daily basis and expand access to vaccinations to people across South Africa,” he said.
Discovery said it had assisted the government in the vaccination of over 12 500 teachers as part of the national educator vaccination programme.
Dr Rajesh Patel, head of the benefit and risk department for the Board of Healthcare Funders, said the body, which represents several medical schemes in and outside South Africa, was encouraged by the positive sentiment displayed by the 35-49-year-old age group on social media after the announcement of their inclusion.
“To be fair to the older age group, vaccine supply globally was initially low and that affected the uptake as the department would have wanted to ration and ensure that front-line or essential services workers were taken care of first. But from July the vaccine supply has expanded, with the inclusion of more companies.
“We need more people to register for the vaccine as it is also good for creating the South African digital health record, which in turn is good for the implementation of National Health Insurance.”
Patel added the Health Department would have to be innovative in using social media and even delegate municipalities where possible to ensure people were registered for the national Covid-19 vaccine roll-out programme.
“We need more people to come forward to register for the programme. We must not neglect the older and vulnerable age groups as younger people are included. The learnings from initial hesitancy for us are that as medical schemes, we need to mobilise more support for Covid-19 awareness. People need to be regularly informed on what to do before and after they contract Covid-19, especially for those who may find themselves having to take care of loved ones who have been exposed to Covid-19,” said Patel.
Whelan said: “People who didn’t arrive for their scheduled vaccination appointment said this was because of lack of transport (21%), they were currently ill with Covid-19 or other illness (19%), and inconvenience of the site or slot for the vaccine (15%). Those were the top three reasons for their non-attendance.
“For these reasons, we have implemented an online booking system that gives people wishing to vaccinate an opportunity to select a venue, date and time convenient for them.”
He said a snap survey by the scheme found that “at the same time, increasing digital awareness and increasing mobility of younger population groups may make it easier for these populations groups to access vaccination.
“We strongly encourage everyone in South Africa, regardless of age, to get vaccinated.
“Vaccines are free for anyone living in South Africa and have clear benefits in reducing risk of infection, symptomatic disease, hospitalisation and death,” said Whelan.
To register for the vaccine rollout programme visit: https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za or dial *134*832*(your IDNUMBER#).
Or call 0800 029 999.