No device, access to the internet or a facility with a generator? Then you’ll struggle to get a vaccine

Image | Canva

The Department of Health held a webinar on Wednesday night to discuss the country’s vaccine plans. According to what was discussed, citizens will need a device, access to the internet and a valid ID book, in order to be put on the waiting list for a Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

Furthermore, should your local public health facility not have a generator, to safely store vaccines, then you’ll struggle even more to get jabbed.

Frontline healthcare workers, staff vaccinated via their employers, and uninsured people will all have to register via the government’s Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) to get an appointment date.

The EVDS employs an online “self enrolment” portal. Once someone qualifies for a shot, they are sent an SMS with a time, date and place and must show their unique code to the vaccinator. They must also present a valid ID on the date of their appointment.

Read More | South Africa’s new COVID-19 vaccine ‘ID system’ and how it works

Once someone has received both their vaccine doses, an “electronic vaccination certificate” will be available via the EVDS platform online. But accessing that (and having it on hand) might be a challenge for those without a device and internet connection. As of yet, there is no mention of an alternative way to book a vaccine, for those without internet access, devices and ID documents.

When asked about the risk load shedding poses to temperature-sensitive vaccines, health department deputy-director Anban Pillay confirmed vaccines “won’t be stocked where there are no generators,” meaning that isolated communities with flimsy healthcare facilities, including rural clinics and hospitals that do not have backup power, may struggle to get easy access to a dose.

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The government says it also plans to pay private doctors and nurses to assist with vaccinations on behalf of the state. Providers who handle vaccinations as contractors will be paid between R50 and R60 per vaccination by the state.

While the government says it prefers to administer its own shots at public facilities, it will outsource some of the work to private providers. Those providers include pharmacies that can guarantee their cold storage and GPs in private practice, especially those in more isolated parts of the country.

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