EVDS system not running as smoothly as projected, says SAMA

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published May 26, 2021

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Cape Town – The Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS ) has come in for criticism as reports have emerged that people under the age of 30 are able to register for the Covid-19 vaccine, with some even getting appointment dates for their jabs, although the vaccines are at present meant to be restricted to the over-60s.

Also, there were some reports from people who did receive SMS appointments – but that these were at short notice or required them to go to a vaccination centre far away. There were also many over-60s who had registered on the EVDS, but who have not yet received notification of appointments for the jab.

Sixty-four-year-old Beverly Daniels told IOL that she first registered on April 23, but had only received acknowledgement of registration, and nothing further.

“I then re-registered on the 18th of May, called the call centre and they informed us that we were registered and would receive an SMS in 48 hours telling us where and when to go for the vaccine. To date, we have received nothing; what must we do?” she asked.

The system is yet to issue SMSes notifying vaccinees of their second-dose appointments. On Tuesday, the Department of Health closed the site for new healthcare worker registrations.

“We will be communicating the new process once it is finalised to the healthcare professionals who have not registered on EVDS previously, but want to receive a vaccine,” said Health Department deputy director-general Dr Anban Pillay.

“Those who were previously registered on the system can still proceed to book their appointments,” added Pillay.

The site opened for registration to people over 60 on April 16, ahead of the national rollout, which began on May 17. As of Monday evening, 651 628 shots had been administered, approximately 480 000 of which went to healthcare workers inoculated under the Sisonke study with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.

Chairperson of the SA Medical Association (Sama) Dr Angelique Coetzee says they are aware the system is not running as smoothly as being projected.

“We are aware that they are sending SMSes or WhatsApp messages less than 24 hours before patients need to come for their vaccine. It would be more prudent to plan this much better to give the elderly people 2 to 3 days to prepare.

’’There’s a lot of logistics around the elderly. In order to make this process run much smoother, they need to have a good, working EVDS,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape has secured zero-rated access to the national government’s EVDS website through its public wi-fi hotspots.

This means that people can access the EVDS on public wi-fi hot spots without affecting their allocation of 3GB free data per month.

By zero-rating this website, a greater number of people from across the province will be able to register for their vaccines, regardless of whether they live in rural settings or have limited access to the internet.

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