The uptake at the pop-up site at the SJ Smith hostel famously known as Wema, near Lamontville south of Durban, has been poor as hostel dwellers in Durban are hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

This is despite calls from KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala urging people to vaccinate in large numbers. Currently, just over 30 000 people are being vaccinated daily in the province.

KwaZulu-Natal currently has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the country, at over 46 000. The provincial government says it is concerned about vaccine hesitancy, particularly among the younger age groups.

At the Wema Hostel, the majority of residents were simply not interested in taking the vaccine. But they would not speak to SABC News about their reasons. The few who did turn up to receive the vaccine encouraged others to do the same.

“I was scared of taking the vaccine because of the rumors people are spreading saying that the needle is too big. But now that I’ve been vaccinated there’s no pain, I’m fine. I was also skeptical but then I decided to just go get vaccinated and I feel fine.

People should get vaccinated so we won’t spread this virus and save our family’s lives.”

Launch a pop-up vaccination site at the Wema hostel in Durban

Zikalala says that fake news is playing a role in deterring people from being vaccinated.

“The recent surge in coronavirus cases reflects the high numbers of mostly unvaccinated people. This is serious and is even affecting our economic recovery. The experts have also noted that the risk of an adverse outcome is minimal for those who are inoculated.”

The eThekwini Municipality bears the brunt of the province’s infections. Zikalala also elaborated on the districts where schools have been the most affected by infections among learners and educators.

“Our third wave in KZN has been characterised by a fluctuation in the numbers of new cases, hospitalisation and deaths. The curve so far appears to have been less severe this time around when compared to the second wave. A high number of learners and educators have been affected especially in eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, King Cetshwayo, uMkhanyakude and uLembe districts.”


Provincial Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane says most of the people who remain unvaccinated are from townships and rural areas.

Nomagugu says, “One of the other reasons why we have these visits to your churches and any other community engagement is because we want the community to engage the department of health directly and ask questions themselves so that they are able to get clarity on issues that they are concerned or issues where they do not have clarity. The prediction is indeed saying that the fourth wave might hit us in December so far nothing has indicated that we might have it earlier than December.”

2.3 million vaccine doses have been administered in the province so far.

Story by: Nonhlakanipho Magwaza