The vaccination roll-out for some Northern Cape departments has not delivered the desired results.
AS THE national vaccination roll-out is set to include those aged 18 to 34 years, the Northern Cape Department of Health has noted that only 52% of the Province’s population has been vaccinated thus far.
Department spokesperson Lebogang Majaha said that 173,219 people in the Province have been vaccinated, of which 89,896 are fully vaccinated.
The vaccination programme commenced last year, where the roll-out was first aimed at front-line workers in the health system.
The programme was then rolled out to the elderly and later included residents with comorbidities.
The programme progressed to include those in the education sector, the police and those in the social development department, which included officials from the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa).
The vaccination programme was then rolled out to those in the 35 to 49 age group.
Although the programme has been rolled out to include more people, the conclusion of the vaccination programme for some provincial departments has not delivered the anticipated results.
The provincial spokesperson for the SAPS, Colonel Mashay Gamieldien, said approximately 4,000 police members have been vaccinated.
Gamieldien said the SAPS vaccination programme started on July 8, 2021 and all sites closed on August 11, 2021.
“Approximately 4,000 members were vaccinated in the Province. Since 2020 to date the SAPS in the Northern Cape lost 32 members due to Covid-19-related illnesses,” Gamieldien said.
She said those who have missed out on the opportunity to vaccinate are encouraged to visit their nearest vaccination site in order to get the jab.
“It is a personal choice to be vaccinated and therefore members are not forced, however, they are encouraged to take the jab to protect themselves and others from Covid-19. Members who have not yet been vaccinated are continuously encouraged on a daily basis to do so and to visit vaccination sites of the Department of Health, Dis-Chem, Clicks or other external sites in their respective areas.”
The provincial spokesperson for the Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that although they had expected a high turnout of educators and support staff to be vaccinated, only 9,000 received the jab.
“The Northern Cape Department of Education has by the close of its vaccination roll-out in July this year recorded a total of 9,067 vaccinations of educators and support staff. The number might have changed over the past weeks as some staff members might have been vaccinated at the vaccination sites across the Province,” said Van der Merwe.
The provincial Department of Social Development, with the exclusion of Sassa, indicated that it is planning a campaign to educate its staff about the importance of the vaccine after its programme ended “badly”.
Department spokesperson Lesego Pule said the department was not able to reach 50% of its vaccination target.
“We did badly … however there are a number of reasons that could have contributed to that. One of the factors could be that our staff, such as our social workers, were out in the field and could not go for the jab. There were also staff who were sick with the flu and that also contributed to the fact that they did not get the vaccine.
“There were those who were reluctant to get the vaccine, however, the district officials, including the MEC, had a discussion with those individuals and they later changed their beliefs around the vaccine.
“We are planning on launching our campaign to educate staff more about the vaccine and to hear what the challenges were that resulted in such a low turnout of staff being vaccinated. We will also be having this programme after the flu season,” said Pule.
He said that those in the early childhood development (ECD) sector have exceeded 50% of their target.
“Each sector within the department had set themselves a target for the number of vaccinations. The ECD sector exceeded 50% of their vaccination target and that is commendable.”
The provincial spokesperson for Sassa, Inno Khunou, said that 324 out of a total 844 personnel, which includes outsourced personnel, were vaccinated.
“A total of 239 out of 510 Sassa staff members were vaccinated. A total of 52 out of 261 security officers employed by Sassa across the Province were vaccinated and a total of 33 out of a total number of 73 of our cleaners were vaccinated,” said Khunou.
Majaha meanwhile assured residents that the vaccine is safe and that it has been proven to be highly effective against Covid-19.
“The vaccine has been proven to be safe and highly effective against Covid-19, providing a protection of over 90%. Vaccines have been tested for their ability to prevent severe illness and death from Covid-19,” he said.
Majaha, however, urged residents to continue to adhere to Covid-19 protocols even after being vaccinated.
“We encourage everyone to implement non-pharmaceutical measures after taking the vaccine through wearing a mask around others, washing of hands or sanitising and practising social distancing at all times.”