Total covid-19 vaccine disaster in Western Cape, 'unfairness' forces people to miss their doses


Shariefa Martin from Silvertown, Athlone, is one of many seniors who feel it’s unfair that they have to travel long distances to clinics to get their vaccination shots when there are health facilities in their own areas.

When Shariefa, 64, first registered for her first dose, her SMS notification told her to go to the Brooklyn Chest Hospital nearly 12km away.

“When I registered myself for the vaccine, I was told to go to Brooklyn Hospital but I live in Athlone,” she says.

“As a pensioner it is difficult to get transport or to make use of public transport. I feel this is unfair. The third wave is nearly here and I want to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

After making several calls to the provincial hotline number, Martin was told that she needs to be at the Dr Abdurahman day hospital in Kewtown, Athlone, today, where she and other pensioners would get their jabs.

“Most of the information regarding the vaccination registration and centres is online and most pensioners don’t have access to WhatsApp,” she says.

The Western Cape Health Department’s Natalie Watlington says Shariefa is not the only one with this issue.

“We are aware that many residents are asking for clarity and since Monday, 24 May, the directive was given that it's best to supply the public with the provincial hotline number only,” she says.

“The number is 0860 142 142 and from there they will be directed to facilities for enquiries.

“The biggest challenge over the first week of Phase 2 was the scheduling and allocation of over 60-year-olds to sites to receive their vaccine which was done centrally via the National Department of Health’s system.

“This resulted in many residents who have registered not receiving their second SMS notifications, or their vaccination date, time and venue.

“Many residents were allocated a vaccination site which was too far and missed their appointments.”

Watlington says to rectify this, the Health Department has been given control over the scheduling of SMS notifications and allocation of sites.

“Our teams will now be working on aligning the registrations with the scheduling and aim to provide a three-day lead time going forward, so that residents have enough time to get to their vaccination site.

“We will also make sure that sites are selected close to where the person resides,” she adds.

– Daily voice

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