Covid-19 vaccination program discriminates against the poor – research

A research project from the University of Johannesburg found that the Covid-19 vaccination program discriminates against the poor. (SAgovnews via Twitter)

  • A research project from the University of Johannesburg found that the Covid-19 vaccination program discriminates against the poor.
  • Research has revealed that residents of informal settlements do not have the money to travel to be vaccinated or adequate access to register for the vaccination.
  • The research project took place at Protea Sud.

The way the Covid-19 vaccination program for the elderly is administered in South Africa discriminates against the poor.

This was part of the findings of the University of Johannesburg‘s Social Change Unit, which led a research project at Protea South, Johannesburg.

Discussing the results in a webinar Thursday, Professor Kate Alexander, South Africa’s research chair in social change at the university, said the immunization system in its current form disadvantages poor people and should be addressed immediately .

According to the research, the Electronic Immunization Data System (EVDS), in principle, was a good idea because it should have reduced inequalities by vaccinating people in the order they signed up.

However, the government’s implementation shortcomings undermined this.

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People with cars and money for gasoline can walk around vaccination sites until they find a relatively short line for “walk-in”. This is not possible for the poor who, as this case study shows, do not have the funds to reach their nearest site, let alone switch between them.

Alexander explained that impoverished people should decide to spend what little money they have, for food, on transport to get to vaccination sites.

Researcher Bongani Xezwi said there must be an official plan to get people to vaccination sites if they needed a lift, as an R44 round trip to the clinic was too much for most people who lived in the study area.

“Further, EVDS has been touted as a technocratic solution to a social problem. First, many people do not have the information they need to make an informed decision about vaccination.”

“People with smartphones and computers read posters online in English. Those without such gadgets and language skills need posters on the walls and leaflets in hand, preferably in their own language. , and they need a lot more radio and television coverage. “

“Second, although it is free and relatively easy to register over the phone, the steps are not sufficiently communicated and, again, the messaging system has favored an online process. People without access to any type telephone numbers, and there are still many, should not be excluded from information and registration. “

It was further argued that delivery issues with EVDS were partly related to efficiency. The program had been administered in a chaotic fashion, government communication had been chronically weak, and vaccination sites and staff were insufficient.

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“However, it is mostly equity. Older people who are most in need of protection from the virus, those who live in overcrowded informal settlements where poverty is deep and pervasive, have more difficulty getting vaccinated. Impoverishment and its implications for deployment are reported in many ways, including prioritizing fighting hunger over protecting health, complaints that R10 for Panados is a large expense, volunteers in need of food and lack of access to information and registration. “

The case study also noticed widespread reluctance to take the vaccine, with people complaining about a lack of information from the government.

One of those people was Emily Mohapi, born in 1921.

During a webinar on the research project, Mohapi said she didn’t want to get the shot, but was later convinced after receiving more information.

Now one of those who had been vaccinated, Mohapi was grateful and felt more alive than ever. She also encouraged other elderly people to get vaccinated.

The following recommendations were made:

– Assist the CHWs [Community Health Workers] recruiting local youth who can help with education and registration; provide them all with smartphones and data; and draw on the mobilizing skills of experienced community activists.

– People must be brought to vaccines, or vaccines must be brought to people. Subways and local municipalities should second or recruit staff to coordinate transport for the poorest people to reach vaccination sites. Transportation can be taxis, volunteer cars, private taxis or buses. In addition, there should be a move towards the use of mobile vaccination units.

– When people are vaccinated, they should be offered Panados and free masks; and free masks should be available in clinics, schools and other public places.

– The government should provide emergency financial assistance in the form of improved pensions and the reinstatement of the distress social assistance allowance.

Meanwhile, the C19 Popular Coalition’s (COWG) community organizing working group, which collaborated on the research project, strongly opposed the Ministry of Health’s immunization process.

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“The registration system as it is currently in use faithfully reflects the fact that the South African government prioritizes profits over people’s lives. It is clear that accessibility to EVDS by the working class and the poor was not a consideration when the system was created. . “

“There is a looming crisis with the safety of our seniors even though, thanks to vaccines, we now have the means to do it. They don’t know how to use the technology, they don’t have the money to buy data. expensive, and worse yet, their public pensions are not enough to allow them to make ends meet. “

As of June 2, the number of people over the age of 60 vaccinated with the first dose of Pfizer vaccine stood at 637,801.

The total number of health workers vaccinated under the Sisonke program was 479,768.

The country had so far recorded a total of 1,675,013 confirmed SARS-CoV2 infections, which have caused Covid-19.

The death toll from Covid-19 as of June 2 stood at 56,711.

About Mitchel McMillan

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