According to the latest census figures, there are about 1.3 million people over 60 years old in Gauteng, but fewer than 200 000 (15%) have so far registered for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout which is due to start in two weeks time on 17 May.
I am also concerned about insufficient preparations for the rollout at many of the vaccination centres run by the provincial health department and by local government clinics. I am even more concerned that people will die when it was possible to prevent this through proper planning and delivery.
When I visited the Jeppestown clinic last week there was only a printed notice on a tree outside which informed people that they could register there for vaccinations if they were over 60.
I was informed that the vaccinations would not be done at the clinic but at the nearby Bertha Solomon recreation centre hall, but no preparations whatsoever had been done at this venue.
There was better preparation at the Alexandra Community Health Centre which I also visited, but it does not appear that they have enough staff to speedily vaccinate the 22 000 eligible people in their area. They plan to have four vaccinators at their centre, and a similar number at two satellite centres, which probably means they can do fewer than 2000 vaccinations a week.
The Gauteng Health Department needs to run aggressive outreach programmes to ensure that far more people are registered on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS), with special assistance to elderly people who may not have smart phones.
Every effort should be made to vaccinate all vulnerable people as soon as possible ahead of a possible mid-winter third wave of Covid-19 cases.
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