The Free State Health Department is concerned about a drop in the number of people registering for COVID-19 vaccines. It believes that last week’s cold weather had a negative impact on the turnout. The province has not reached half of its target to vaccinate 1, 9 million people to reach herd immunity.

Ninety-four thousand people in the Free State have been vaccinated since the beginning of the vaccine roll out programme.  The Health Department is intensifying its campaign to vaccinate those above the age of 60. The province has a target of 200 000 people to be vaccinated during the second phase.

MEC of Health Montseng Tsiu was at the Maokeng Mall in Kroonstad to encourage the elderly to register for their vaccines.  Some used the opportunity to get registered.

Some of the elderly people say, “I don’t know what COVID-19 is but I want to do what everybody is doing. I came here with the intention to vaccinate against corona. Because I have been assisted by doctors before so I know the value of healthcare. I’m very happy.”

“Vaccine is very important, I hear about corona and I want to be vaccinated. I’m afraid of corona,” says one of the residents.

The number and capacity of vaccination sites have been increased in the province but Tsiu is concerned with the low turnout.

“In this vaccination sites, we were expecting high turnout because we have hired more nurses as vaccinators and train them. At least we said our target for each vaccine site they must not do less than two thousand a day but we find that now we have even lower than 500. So there was a time we were able to do more than a thousand even two thousand, we still believe there are still many people who have not come. We have made sure that they don’t sit for a very long time.”

The MEC encouraged people to register to avoid overcrowding at vaccination sites.

“As they register we are able to book them and schedule them so that they don’t come there and they then find that there are too many and can’t keep to social distancing. Then our vaccine sites turn into super spreaders.”

The Free State has the fifth highest infection rate in the country. To date, it has recorded 160 401 cases with over 4 00 related fatalities.

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