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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

SA should go for health pass instead of closing restaurants

More countries are envisioning a vaccinated world and have started introducing Covid passports.

After last month’s pandemonium which will have long-term effects on the economy, being eligible to get vaccinated from 1 September was the good news I needed to hear.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week moved the country to adjusted level three and said vaccinations sites had made huge strides.

“We administered more than 240 000 vaccines weekly. As a result, we have administered more than 6.3 million vaccines, with over 10% of our population having received a vaccine dose,” he said.

Although I will be vaccinating earlier than the 18 to 34 age group which I fall under because I registered under the media category, I am relieved that the vaccine will finally be given to young people who are capable of leading by example in the country.

I am hoping the age group which will be going to vaccination sites in September will break the 35 to 49 age group record, for which one million vaccine registrations were recorded on the electronic vaccination data system.

The national vaccination programme continued throughout the country despite the violent protests which resulted in temporary closures of some sites in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Yes, there is still hesitancy around the vaccine, especially because there have been cases of people who died shortly after being vaccinated, but it is also important to note that people’s immune systems and bodies react differently.

Some people have worse side-effects than others but you will not know until you receive it. Another misconception I heard a lot of around receiving the vaccine was that it would protect one entirely from the virus, which is untrue.

According to epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes, a vaccine is not a treatment or “cure” for any disease. It is a preventative measure to guard against people getting the disease in the first place.

“The Pfizer vaccine used most frequently in South Africa at the moment is 95% effective against severe disease or death from the alpha variant and 96% effective against hospitalisation (i.e. severe disease) from the delta variant.

“That meant only a really small number of fully vaccinated persons would develop the disease and then almost all of them would only have a mild form of the disease,” she said.

I am quite nervous of the vaccination process as I am not a fan of needles, but I am looking at the bigger picture by getting vaccinated and protecting myself and the people I interact with against the delta variant, which is more transmissible than other variants.

Another reason why vaccinating is important is that more countries are envisioning a vaccinated world and have started introducing Covid passports for tourists. A European Union (EU) vaccine passport is underway across all 27 member nations.

It is also available to non-EU nationals living in member states who have the right to travel to other member states. In France, a health pass allows people to access restaurants, bars, planes and trains.

This is something we should be looking at here instead of closing restaurants each time there is a spike in infections.