Health And Welfare

Mobile wellness bus brings vaccines closer to home for vulnerable communities

When COVID-19 survivor Louisa Afrikaner first heard about the COVID-19 vaccination programme, she decided that she would get her jab after being seriously ill in December 2020. The 53-year-old, from Philadelphia, is one of 84 residents who have now been registered and vaccinated after Western Cape Department of Health used its Mobile Wellness Bus to bring vaccines closer to home for residents in rural communities.

Ms Afrikaner, who is unemployed, says travelling to her nearest town to get vaccinated would be expensive. She expressed her gratitude to healthcare workers who assisted with her COVID-19 registration and vaccinated her at the wellness bus site. She says she took her COVID-19 vaccine to “look out for herself”.

“When I had COVID-19 I couldn’t do anything for myself, and I thought I wouldn’t make it. I was bedridden at the time. Later, I lost a cousin due to the virus. I decided to get out of bed, I wanted to get better and with time I did. When I heard about the vaccination programme at my local clinic, I told myself I would take the vaccine so that I wouldn’t become seriously ill again. I am a diabetic… I need to look out for myself. I want to encourage other people to think about themselves. We need to care for ourselves. This thing (vaccine) is here to help us. It’s similar to child vaccinations, it strengthens the immune system against disease.”

As the Department continues with its objective to make vaccinations even more accessible to the public, the mobile wellness bus will be stationed in the rural communities of Philadelphia, Phisantekraal and Klipheuwel in the coming weeks. This means that residents in these communities will have easy access to registration and vaccination. Residents will be registered and vaccinated on the same day. The Department has partnered with local NPOs, community members and farmers to mobilise farmworkers and farming communities for vaccination.

Nursing Sister Rozene Booys is a vaccinator from the Kraaifontein Community Health Centre. Sr Booys hails from a local rural community and says bringing services to residents’ doorsteps is an important step in improving access to healthcare.

“I grew up in a rural community and I understand how reliant how our communities are on mobile services in some areas, as they don’t always have those resources as easily available as urban communities. It is important that we improve the access to our vaccines, and this is what we’re doing through our mobile wellness bus and other initiatives. Our communities have been very accepting and most are excited about the vaccine. We welcome community members to use the opportunity to register for vaccination and to get their jabs.”

Another resident who made use of the opportunity to get vaccinated in the wellness bus is Jan Afrikaner (not related to Louisa), aged 58. Mr Afrikaner works as a machine operator at a nearby farm. He was the first person to be vaccinated inside the bus.

“I have not had COVID-19 yet but I am taking the vaccine today with the hope that it will protect me from getting very sick. I know that many people are scared of the virus, and I know about who have died.”

Retired Philadelphia resident Siena Petersen, aged 60, believes that vaccines are safe and has encouraged other residents to visit the bus for registration and vaccination.

“I heard a lot that people speak about the vaccine and how it would protect me if I took it. I am here today because I believe it’s a wise decision to take your vaccine as it will protect you and your family.”

The Department is committed to ensuring fair access to our vaccination programme. We encourage all residents, 60 years and older who have not received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to go to their nearest vaccination site. If you have not registered, our staff will assist you to register at the vaccination site. Residents who are 50 years and older in Philadelphia, Phisantekraal and Klipheuwel can access registration assistance and vaccination through our mobile bus initiative.

While we continue our vaccination drive, we also reiterate the importance of practicing safe behaviour before and after you have been vaccinated. Remember to:

Avoid all large gatherings;
Avoid any social gatherings where possible;
If you need to go out to do activities such as shopping, always wear your mask and keep it short;
If you must meet, keep it outdoors, small and short;
When indoors, dress warmly and ensure the windows are open so your space is well ventilated with fresh air;
If sick, stay home.

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