- A Mitchells Plain couple opened up their home as a pop-up site for people to get their Covid-19 vaccinations.
- Members of the Bolotina family say they are "overwhelmed" by the many people that have recently visited.
- The Western Cape health department says this is the only home to have a pop-up vaccination site open in the Cape Flats area.
A married Tafelsig couple says it's a privilege to open their hearts and home for people to get their vaccination jabs during the week as the festive season approaches.
Godfrey Bolotina, 61, and his wife Florence, 57, told News24 that ever since they opened their home as a pop-up vaccination site, they had seen an "influx" of people.
"Oh, I'm so happy to see people coming to get vaccinated. My hubby and I are very passionate about keeping our community safe. We wanted to ensure that we make the vaccines accessible to our community members in the area who cannot afford to travel to their nearest vaccination site in Mitchells Plain," said Florence.
The couple said they wanted their home to feel like a clinic for people and therefore allowed members of the public to also make use of their facilities inside their home while they waited for their turn.
"It was my birthday recently, and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratefulness to be able to contribute to people's health when I saw all the people standing in the line to be vaccinated," she said.
Florence added that just under a year ago she contracted "horrible" Covid-19 symptoms to the point where she even had to wear an "adult nappy".
"When I had the virus, I struggled to breathe and could not walk or even talk without gasping for breath. I am diabetic, hypertensive; I have asthma and a heart condition and was placed on a ventilator and went into a coma for two weeks at the Brackengate Covid-19 hospital. The doctors and nurses took good care of me at Brackengate Hospital of Hope," said Florence.
An emotional Godfrey said he didn't think his wife was going to make it, as she was suffering.
He said he feared getting a call from the doctors telling him that his wife was no more.
"I'm on crutches due to a vehicle accident I was involved in a few years ago and rely a lot on my wife to take care of me," he said.
"The two months she was in hospital was a difficult time for me and I asked God to help her, because if she had to die, then I think I would not have survived long without her," said Godfrey.
Florence said after the two-month hospital stay, she cried to go home because she missed her family.
The couple said that because of their near-death experience with Covid-19, they made a collective decision to open their home.
"We want to tell the elderly people that this virus is not a joke, so get your vaccine to protect yourself. There is nothing to fear. People spread rumours to say 'you will get Covid-19 in the hospital and the nurses and doctors are trying to kill us,' which is not true," said Florence.
Western Cape health department spokesperson Monique Johnstone said the Tafelsig home vaccination site was the first of its kind on the Cape Flats.
Western Cape government health pop-up sites and in-residential vaccination sites had now become regular features across the province.
"Our communities asked for access to vaccination closer to them, away from fixed health sites, and we have delivered. Through working with our communities, our health teams have listened, have adjusted their strategy, and have taken vaccines into people's homes," added Johnstone.
The department said the message was clear: vaccines were widely available, but needed every eligible citizen to take up the opportunity.
"Our data has shown that those over the age of 50 years and those with comorbidities are at higher risk of contracting a severe illness, being hospitalised, and dying if unvaccinated," said the department.
The couple, who lost their only daughter two years ago, said they lived their life with meaning now.
"We have three grandsons from my daughter who passed away; they are such a blessing to us, and we are eternally grateful to have them liven up our homes daily," the couple said.
They continued to encourage those over 50 and 60 to take the vaccine.
"The elderly keeps saying that they have lived their lives already, but I encourage the over the fifties and sixties to take the vaccine because our loved ones still need us," said Florence.
The department said to ensure vaccines were accessible to all, they were making provisions to make them available with in-resident pop-up sites at Sassa pay points and shopping malls.
It was also providing awareness sessions to various community groups on request and setting up vaccination pop-up sites in local churches in the area.
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