Villagers from the OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape believe that a coronavirus vaccine will be the only way to save lives in 2021, but they are worried about accessing it.
The vaccine under the COVAX regime is only expected to be available from the second quarter of this year.
The virus caused panic in rural areas when Majola Village in Port St Johns was declared a hotspot last year. Villagers are hopeful that 2021 will be nothing like the past year.
“We will be left as the youth with no one to guide us because our parents are dying because of this virus. We are asking government to fast track vaccination because our people are dying,” says a villager.
“Churches are closed, as elders, we are not happy and we live in fear but in 2021 we are asking God to save those who contract the virus. It’s not nice leaving children with no one,” says an elder of the village.
“We need to be careful, people died after they took this virus for granted and not following regulations,” adds another villager.
Yesterday, 16 726 new coronavirus infections were recorded, bringing the cumulative total number of infections recorded since the pandemic hit the country to 1 073 887. The national death toll is 28 887 with the Eastern Cape registering 66 new fatalities.
Chief Minenkulu Joyi of Bhaziya outside Mthatha says traditional leaders still have a big role in ensuring compliance in rural areas.
“2020 has taught us that we can have a cultural change in how we do things in our rural areas and we wish government will include our people in vaccination. So as soon as vaccination comes to South Africa, the rural areas would be one of the places considered and people vaccinated.”
In the video below, Civil Society demands action on a plan to get Covid-19 vaccine to the most vulnerable: