Although the government fell short in achieving its goal of inoculating 70% of the adult population by the end of the year, the national department of health said they were satisfied with the turnout of the population fully vaccinated, however hoped to increase the numbers next year.
Health department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the department was planning to intensify health education about the benefits of vaccination, and reduce loss to income and school time, especially by workers and pupils as a result of isolation.
“Of course we are satisfied with the progress made so far, though we would have aimed to do more than this,” he said.
“We are hopeful that we can achieve more next year, and intensify health education to encourage people to vaccinate in numbers to avoid loss of income and school time as a result of isolation.”
As of 29 December, more than 27 million vaccines were administered, with only 23.8% of adults fully vaccinated, said Reuters Covid Tracker.
Epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes said a lot more outreach programmes with information about vaccination in people’s home languages to communities would help increase the numbers, and also a much bigger effort at synchronising messaging from various parts of the government.
“At the moment, the government is not speaking with one voice… And a much bigger effort is needed to bring vaccination sites closer to the poorer communities, as travelling money and time from work are real obstacles for such people,” she said.
Barnes also mentioned better efforts on the part of the government to reassess parts of the Covid control regulations that do not make sense, such as the curfew, and then communicating the reasons for their decisions to the country.
“At present they do not take the country into their confidence and this is causing major mistrust between the people and the authorities,” she added.
Professor Glenda Davison, Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s associate professor and head of the biomedical sciences, said although there had been efforts to take vaccines to the people, many people just did not go because it was too difficult.
“We need more education [dispensed by] credible leaders who are respected by communities. There is so much false information and many people don’t know what is true,” she said.
Davison said getting community leaders and religious leaders on board was important and would help people come forward voluntarily, rather than have them be subject to mandatory protocols.
She also encouraged those who have not been jabbed yet, to be vaccinated, and said the government needed to use everything it had to prepare its citizenry to try and live effectively with the virus.