Over-60s could get R100 with their Covid jab to boost numbers

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Over-60s could get R100 with their Covid jab to boost numbers

A number of entities have been approached to support a campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated

Senior science reporter
The scheme could see more jabs going into arms from late November.
LOADED The scheme could see more jabs going into arms from late November.
Image: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Over-60s could soon be walking out of Covid-19 vaccination centres with R100, as well as protection from severe illness and death.

Business for South Africa (B4SA) said in its newsletter on Wednesday that “over-60s who get vaccinated during the month of November will automatically receive a Vooma vaccination voucher valued at R100".

However, the organisation’s Dr Stavros Nicolaou said the idea of incentivising people to be vaccinated is “conceptual” and not ready for implementation.

“We are hoping it will be in action towards the end of November,” he said.

David Harrison, the DG Murray Trust CEO who has also been seconded to lead a donor support task team for the health department, proposed the idea, said Nicolaou.

Harrison and his team were “raising R100m from both the public and private sectors to this end. That money would be used on a targeted basis for the 60-and-plus generation.”

The Solidarity Fund is among entities that have been approached and, though the “exact modality” has not yet been worked out, Nicolaou said he is confident there will be lift-off.

By close of business on Tuesday, 21.7-million vaccination doses had been administered and almost 63% of over-60s had had one jab.

But 2-million over-60s, the age group most vulnerable to severe cases of Covid-19 and death, have not been vaccinated. 

Just more than 37% of SA’s adult population has had at least one jab, with the Western Cape reporting the highest rate (46%) and Mpumalanga the lowest (31%).

Nicolaou said SA has the highest vaccination rate on the continent, “but we are still not vaccinating at an appropriate rate to hit sufficient numbers before the onset of a fourth wave”.

He said a hike in vaccination numbers could “reduce the impact and severity of a fourth wave” and that vaccines have been shown to reduce transmission by at least 50%.

“The challenge of vaccinating the remainder of the unvaccinated population timeously is an intricate and complex exercise, and requires a combination of interventions, including incentives, mandatory jabs and targeted community-based messaging that encourages communities, colleagues, families and friends to get vaccinated, particularly before a fourth or subsequent waves,” Nicolaou said.

A “mix of incentives and mandatory instruments” have proven effective and the proposed R100 payment could help hit the targets for those 60 and over, he added.

In its latest newsletter, B4SA said a second Vooma vaccination weekend would be held between November 12 and 14. The first, at the beginning of October, produced a significant improvement in vaccinations over the Friday to Sunday it operated. 

“All leaders across SA are urged to get behind the vaccination programme and mobilise their followers,” said the newsletter.

“People are more likely to come forward to be vaccinated if they hear the message from people they trust: people who can reassure them, take away some of their anxieties and provide them with the facts.”

The business organisation’s steering committee chair, Martin Kingston, said he is encouraged that many companies are considering mandatory vaccination in the workplace. “We believe this will have a significant impact in terms of moving the needle.”

Kingston also revealed a planned “Vax Champs” campaign, which he said is designed to educate and empower people with the information they need to encourage others to get the jab.

“Vax Champs will give business the resources to enlist staff and communities to promote vaccination,” he said.

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