Eastern Cape Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth says she remains hopeful that sanity will prevail and people will be vaccinated against Covid-19 instead of being forced to choose between the jab and their jobs.
Meth was speaking in Gqeberha on Tuesday as her department welcomed the Transvaco train – a health train focused on bringing Covid-19 vaccines to remote communities and those with limited medical resources – in the province to help with the roll-out of the vaccination programme.
The Eastern Cape is leading the rest of the country in the vaccination drive, having already vaccinated 21.8% of its population that is eligible for vaccination.
The train will be making stops at different stations including East London, Mdantsane, Qonce and Komani before leaving the province on December 16.
The Eastern Cape is the second province to receive the Transvaco train after Gauteng.
Meth called on people to come in their numbers to get vaccinated, saying that the province could not afford to have the programme stagnate.
“The vaccines are safe and effective, so we need everyone to come forward and get the jab. The sooner we all do that, the sooner we will go back to some semblance of normalcy. We have noted that some big companies such as Discovery and Sanlam, as well as the business chamber here in the metro have backed the ‘no-jab, no-job policy’. It should not come to the point of having people choose between the jab and getting a job. But we remain hopeful that sanity will prevail and that people will be vaccinated,” she said.
The province has started making taking the jab fashionable and calls on the people of Nelson Mandela Bay metro to flood social networks showing the world that they have taken the jab aboard the Transvaco train, Meth said.
“I have no doubts in my mind that people from East London, Mdantsane, Qonce and Komani will seize the opportunity and vaccinate on this beautiful train.”
She said the province was on track to achieve its goal of vaccinating 4.9 million people. As of September 11, the provincial department of health had administered 1 815 777 vaccines across the Eastern Cape. Of that number, 943 670 are fully vaccinated.
“This means that one in five people in the province is fully vaccinated. In fact, the Eastern Cape is the leading province in the country, having vaccinated 21.8% of our 4 497 224 eligible persons over the age of 18,” Meth said.
To date, the province has vaccinated 480 243 citizens over the age of 60, equaling 62% of the 778 894 people in that age group.
“Our senior citizens have been vaccinated while queuing for their social grants through our fixed and outreach services. The Eastern Cape has 1 226 vaccination sites, with the Nelson Mandela Bay area operating 55 daily active sites supplemented by weekend pop-up sites. In the bay area, we have administered a total of 285 690 vaccines, with 204 671 persons fully vaccinated. This represents 23.7% of the eligible population fully vaccinated in Nelson Mandela Bay,” she said
Meth said they were relieved to notice a downward trend in the number of new cases and active cases across the province for the past three weeks. There were 2 357 active cases at the end of the past week, compared with 3 240 active cases the week before that (27% fewer cases than the preceding week).
She said various efforts had contributed to the department slowly but surely getting closer to its target of vaccinating 4.9 million people and achieving herd immunity.
“And now with the Transvaco train we’ll be able to reach more people,” said Meth.