Western Cape health department lauds Vaxi Taxi teams

EMS personnel at the appreciation ceremony hosted last week. Photo: WCDHW

EMS personnel at the appreciation ceremony hosted last week. Photo: WCDHW

Published Mar 13, 2023


Cape Town - When the rollout for the Covid-19 vaccines took place, the Western Cape department of health and wellness knew it had to establish a way to bring about the essential vaccine to residents who could not travel to a vaccination site or clinic.

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Vaxi Taxi mobile vaccination service was soon born.

The Vaxi Taxi comprised of an ambulance and EMS personnel who went to various areas to administer vaccines to those who could not access them.

According to the department, the Vaxi Taxi teams made 131 rural trips and 66 trips to urban areas to administer 7 208 vaccines between April 2022 and March 2023.

Juanita Arendse (chief director of Emergency Clinical and Services Support), Mncedisi Mbatha from the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading Programme, and Craig Wylie, director of EMS. Photo: WCDHW

During an appreciation ceremony last week, the department recognised 95 EMS employees, including two community members, Felicity Solomons from Macassar and Mncedisi Mbatha from Khayelitsha, who collaborated with the EMS Vaxi Taxi initiatives for their contribution in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Since the inception of the EMS Vaxi Taxi mobile vaccination service, previously underserved, rural communities are now being provided with vaccination uptake, the department said.

This is done by forming community partnerships to take vaccinations to residents.

With the ambulances, EMS personnel are able to reach where residents are and vaccinate as many people as possible.

Lana Joubert, paramedic and shift leader, EMS Hermanus. Photo: WCDHW

This innovative approach by the EMS was acknowledged by the World Health Organization as a true pioneer of equitable access to vaccination, the department said.

Chief director of Emergency Clinical and Services Support, Juanita Arendse commended the efforts of the EMS Vaxi Taxi teams which are spread across six districts.

“We are proud of you for ensuring easy access to vaccination, as this has proved to be effective in decreasing the risk of Covid-19.

“Well done to all of you for showing outstanding work achievement, teamwork, and a strong commitment to saving lives,” Arendse said.

Terrence Klaasen, station manager at EMS Paarl, and Medical Director of the EMS, Dr Shaheem De Vries. Photo: WCDHW

Mbatha, who is affiliated to the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading programme in Harare said it was good for the Vaxi Taxi teams to come to his area and save lives.

“Our residents live in places where it is often difficult to access health services, and with the programmes that we have implemented and what the EMS teams have provided, we made a difference,” Mbatha said.

“It was good for the community, as they were able to access services right in front of their doors. This recognition means a lot to me, as a community leader who informs residents in the area of services that they need in order to live healthy lives.”

Station manager at the Paarl EMS, Terrence Klaasen, who has been part of the Vaxi Taxi initiative for the past two years, said teams came together to provide the essential service to residents in the Cape Winelands district.

TheVaxi Taxi teams are spread across six districts. Photo: WCG

“We really came together as a team to provide an essential service in the Cape Winelands district. We really appreciated the support from community members, without whom our efforts would not be successful. We have been doing very well with administering vaccines and have even visited schools to provide the service. This recognition is such a rewarding feeling,” Klaasen said.

Lana Joubert, a paramedic and shift leader at the Hermanus EMS has been a vaccinator and is in charge of the cold chain management in her district.

She said the Overberg team have seen the vaccination programme as an opportunity to better serve their communities.

“We work with the communities every day and having our contributions recognised in this way means a lot to us,” Joubert said.

The Western Cape department of health and wellness is reminding the public that Covid-19 is still around and continues to be a risk to vulnerable people.

It has urged interested parties wanting to explore collaborative efforts to contact the EMS Vaxi Taxi vaccination service on 021 508 4520 or send an email to Noorifah Narker [email protected].

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