Elderly people unsure about vaccination registration

Phase 2 of the vaccination campaign will focus on those older than 60 years and is expected to start next week. Photo supplied

To register the technologically illiterate among the elderly on the system, the health department is calling on the services of community health workers.

Elderly people in both rural and urban areas who spoke to Elitsha said they are not aware that they have to register for the vaccine against Covid-19. The Department of Health has recently launched an Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) to reach all South Africans who are older than 60 years. Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout is expected to commence on 17 May.

Nocingile Kopolo who resides in Lusizini, one of the deepest rural villages of Ngqeleni, said she cannot wait to be vaccinated though she doesn’t know where she will go to get her jab when the time comes.

Mnikelelo Bhinase of Duncan Village is aware that elderly people will soon be vaccinated but he lacks information on how he will have to register for vaccination. “I have heard on the radio that Phase 2 of vaccination is to be rolled-out soon and I am ready to have my bit,” Bhinase said.

70-year-old Msekeli Makosi of Khayelitsha is willing to do anything to be vaccinated when the right time comes. He hasn’t heard anything about registration. Getrude Malgas (64) who stays in Harare, Khayelitsha, is aware of the online registration but she will have to be assisted. Today’s technology, she said, has advanced out of the grasp of people her age.

According to the Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, the launch of the EVDS marks South Africa’s progress towards universal health coverage. “This is the first time in our democratic history that a major public health campaign will be supported by one digital system for all South Africans.”

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Mkhize further said that it is understandable that not everyone in this country has a smart phone or has access to the internet. “For this reason, we will be using the smartphones and petrol that has been donated to us by various companies and philanthropic organisations to send out teams to help our vulnerable citizens.”

To address concerns on how technologically disadvantaged and illiterate elderly people in rural villages will be accommodated by this initiative, the Department of Health spokesperson in the Eastern Cape, Sizwe Kupelo, said the department has trained outreach teams in all districts of the province to raise vaccine awareness and ensure that people are registered on the EVDS and that they are vaccinated. He emphasised that they will put strategies in place to reach-out to all eligible citizens. 

Nomashiya Mthintsilana, who works as a community healthcare worker (CHW) at Mgcwe Clinic in Ngqamakwe, said at this stage, only a few villagers are willing to register. She works tirelessly to educate people. In her opinion, people have become reluctant to get the jab because they have been swamped by vaccine misinformation.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health spokesperson in the Western Cape, Nomawethu Sbukwana, confirmed that they will be working with CHWs to register old people. “CHWs have been working with community members way before Covid-19; they know elderly people and people living with severe co-morbidities. They have been in the forefront of community testing and screening, so the EVDS registration for vaccination for older people will follow the same manner.”

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These are 6 steps to register for vaccination on the website, if you are 60 years or older.

The department has also launched a service portal available through WhatsApp and USSD in South Africa.

The self-registration services can be accessed as follows:

  • WhatsApp – You can now register on the Covid Whatsapp number by sending ‘Register’ to 0600 123 456.
  • USSD – You can also register by SMS by dialling *134*832*your ID number.
  • No ID number – South Africans who don’t have an ID number can also dial *134*832# for assistance.

If a South African is younger than 60, the department said it will send a message to the user notifying them when they do qualify for a vaccine.

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