File picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA).
File picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA).

Senior citizens first to get incentive in SA for having the Covid-19 jab

By Xolile Bhengu Time of article published Nov 2, 2021

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R100 VOUCHER

DURBAN - National Lead for Demand Acceleration for the Vooma Vaccination initiative, and DG Murray Trust chief executive Dr David Harrison, said they had partnered with the Shoprite Group to incentivise vaccination as they had seen a correlation between cost and vaccine take-up.

Harrison said the aim of the R100 grocery voucher was to make it easier for people 60+ who have not had any vaccination dose yet, to come for vaccination. Often, as bread winners of households, travelling to a vaccination site meant taking money from something else.

He said the private sector was trying to look at innovative ways to incentivise the estimated 2 million in the age group to come forward, with a tangible benefit of the Covid-19 vaccine, adding that health workers who had participated at pop-up vaccination sites during the national voting day would be receiving Nando’s vouchers after their numbers had been tallied.

“We would have liked to have seen see a higher number of people that vaccinated yesterday, but we are increasingly seeing a concerning apathy and inertia to the Covid-19 vaccine. The main concern is that the 60+ age group remains the most vulnerable to the pandemic, and there is clear evidence that vaccinating reduces hospitalisation or the costs of treatment.

“That is why we decided that during November anyone aged 60+ would receive a grocery voucher that can be redeemed within 30 days at Shoprite, Checkers, and U-Save. Those who are eligible don’t have to register; they will be identified through the EVDS system; they will then after vaccinating receive an invite via SMS to redeem the voucher,” said Harrison.

He added that those aged 60+ would receive the notification of the voucher as an SMS on the mobile number given to get vaccinated.

“The purpose of Vooma vouchers is to ensure that as many people as possible aged 60 and older get vaccinated ahead of the 4th wave, because they are at highest risk of getting severely ill or dying from Covid-19. Three out of every five over sixties (62%) have had at least one dose of vaccination. If we can get close to five out of five by the end of the year, we will crush the power of the 4th wave.

“The problem is that the rate of vaccination among older people is now very low. Fewer than 6 000 people 60+ are being vaccinated every day, which means that there will be 1.8 million people 60+ unvaccinated at the end of the year. We want to ensure that they are protected as well ahead of the 4th wave.

“One of the reasons why people do not come forward for vaccination is that they still have to pay to get to the vaccination sites or may have other expenses associated with it, even though the vaccination itself is free. We want to try to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated,” said Harrison.

He said so far R25 million from foundation donors had been secured to support a pilot for 250 000 people aged 60 and older, and if the pilot was successful and vaccine uptake increased, they would be able to persuade other funders to extend the duration of the pilot.

“Eventually we hope that we will have a universal voucher that could be redeemed at any retailer of the individual's choice, including local spaza shops. What we want to ensure is that it remains automated in a digital format so that there is no risk of losing the voucher, unlike if it was a receipt that can be lost or misplaced,” said Harrison.

How does the Voucher Work?

  • Recipients will be invited to send an SMS to 44040 to say “Yes” and confirm they would like to receive it. The SMS is free.
  • Those people who do not yet have a free Money Market account with Shoprite will need to register either in-store or by free USSD, WhatsApp or mobile app. This free service will ensure that the voucher can be traced and reissued if it is lost and if it has not already been redeemed. It also means that people do not have to spend the full voucher all at once.
  • You have 30 days to register for the voucher.
  • Vouchers will be issued until the end of November or until vouchers run out, whichever comes first.
  • The funding is for 260 000 vouchers. Vouchers will only be given to people coming for their first dose (either J&J vaccine or first dose Pfizer). Vouchers will not be issued for the second Pfizer dose.
  • If you have issues, you can dial 0860 010 709 or go to the nearest Shoprite, Checkers or a USave store.

THE MERCURY

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