MINIBUS taxis driving along Christiaan Barnard Street in Cape Town. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW
MINIBUS taxis driving along Christiaan Barnard Street in Cape Town. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW

Government offering free transport to Covid-19 vaccine sites for over-50s

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Aug 24, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department, from Tuesday, will offer free transport to vaccination sites across the country to those over the age of 50.

The Department of Health said the Free Public Transport Pilot Project would be offered to elderly citizens in certain parts of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng until the first week of September.

National Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said the pilot project was a collaboration between the government and society partners in a bid to encourage those over 50 to get vaccinated against the virus.

“Since the start of the vaccination roll-out programme, more than 50% of people over the age of 60 years have been vaccinated.

“The department has significantly increased access to vaccine by increasing the number of sites from 200 at the start to almost 2 500 public and private vaccination sites,” said Maja.

He said the government remained concerned that many elderly people, who were most at risk of developing severe illness if they did not get vaccinated, were not presenting themselves at vaccination sites.

“Despite these efforts, the department remains concerned that many older persons who are at highest risk of severe disease and death from Covid-19 remain unvaccinated.

“This pilot project will be rolled out in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal from Tuesday, 24 August until Saturday, 4 September,” said Maja.

He said the results would be studied and analysed to make a determination for the national roll-out to allow for more vulnerable citizens in hard-to-reach areas to access the Covid-19 vaccine.

“This new initiative will complement other existing interventions currently being rolled out in other parts of the country.

“We have planned for about 25 000 people in the targeted areas to use this service during the pilot phase, Metropolitan/Momentum and Discovery have provided increased capacity at their mass vaccination sites for this purpose.

“We would like to appeal to all the older persons including those who have already received their first doses in these areas to make use of this free service to go to the vaccination sites in these areas to receive their life-saving jabs to protect themselves,” said Maja.

In Gauteng, the pilot project has been extended to a number of communities, including the Mooiplaas Settlement in Centurion, the Olievenhoutbosch Plaza community and the Ivory Park Community near Midrand.

The service will run between 7am and 5pm, with the elderly set to receive return trips home soon after vaccinating.

Meanwhile, Gauteng has recorded 1 022 new infections and the death toll in the province has risen to 18 413.

IOL

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