The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination plays a crucial role in protecting our most vulnerable, this is why it is essential that all communities are reached. At the start of the vaccine roll out, the Department of Health in the Theewaterskloof area identified that there is a large part of the community associated with farms in the area. As part of our localised planning It also became clear that there are many people over 60 who stay on the farms with their families.
Knowing the challenges these farm workers and their families face, the Health team in Theewaterskloof area knew they had to find a way to make it easily accessible and take their vaccination service to these people. Dr Renier Liebenberg, Clinical Manager for the Theewaterskloof and vaccination lead for the areas says, “we decided to get into contact with the farm owners and managers to establish a forum and discuss how the Department of Health and the Private Sector can assist each other in getting as many people vaccinated as possible in the shortest amount of time.”
According to Dr Liebenberg the Private Sector did not hesitate to offer assistance with the vaccination drive. Most farms/companies in the area immediately offered assistance with registration staff, transport to venues, laptops for administration purposes and volunteers to assist with administration and vaccinations. “These farms/companies include: Paul Cluver Wines, Kromco, Beaumont Wines, Two-a-day, Fruitways, Elgin Free Range Chickens, Dennegeur Farm, Remhoogte Farm. The farming unions of Greyton, Caledon, Villiersdorp and Riviersonderend also offered temporary vaccination locations and assisted in registering their employees,” says Dr Liebenberg.
Since the start of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign Dr Liebenberg and his team have been able to vaccinate more than 500 people over 60 living in the farming communities and will continue to visit these communities as more age groups become eligible. “This approach is the best to ensure we get as many peopled registered as possible and vaccinated in a control manner,” says Dr Liebenberg.
“By doing it this way, it takes a lot of the pressure off our facilities, especially the smaller ones. It assists the community in getting them and their family members vaccinated, close to their place of work, their transport is provided by the employers and they do not need to queue for long periods at our facilities,” says Dr Liebenberg.
While this newly formed partnership enables health workers to vaccinate the community and ensures productivity can continue on farms as those most vulnerable are protected, the entire project also assists in building relationships between health workers and the private sector and will also assist in long term chronic disease management of farm employees.