DURBAN - A MULTIFAITH initiative to encourage people to take the Covid-19 vaccine was launched last week in Phoenix.
The VaxuMzansi campaign, an initiative of the Religious Forum Against Covid-19, formed part of an event to welcome the Unicef South Africa and Health Department truck to Phoenix and Bhambayi.
Unicef SA is the lead UN agency in the National Department of Health “Risk Communication and Community Engagement” technical working group. The truck is said to be an innovative community engagement intervention to address the Covid-19 resurgence in hot spots.
It broadcasts local stories about how the pandemic has affected people’s lives with the aim of increasing prevention practices including hand-washing, mask-wearing and physical distancing. The stories and messages are in local languages.
Pumla Ntlabati, Unicef SA risk communication and community engagement specialist, said: “We have reached huge numbers as we bring our messages throughout the country, engaging those who have questions and concerns by providing the muchneeded information to counter the misinformation out there to ensure we overcome this pandemic together.”
A nurse based at a Phoenix clinic said that people believed that when you vaccinate, you die.
“But when you talk face to face they understand and come to get the vaccine. We go house to house to explain to people. I feel great when even just one person comes to get the vaccine. It means that as a health-care worker, I’ve conquered.”
The truck also provides provincial Health Department priority services including TB and HIV screening, blood pressure testing, immunisation, nutrition screening and testing and vaccination for Covid-19. As part of the VaxuMzansi
campaign, general secretary of the SA Council of Churches, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, said they wanted to get at least 70% of congregants vaccinated by December to avoid a catastrophic fourth wave.
Ela Gandhi, a granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, said the drive would also help in eradicating fake news. “There are lots of myths that are going around and I think we should discard them and just have the vaccination so that society can be free of this virus,” said Gandhi.
Thokozani Mncwabe, spokesperson for the eBuhleni faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church commonly known as the Shembe Church, said they endorsed government and the private sector for any interventions aimed at curbing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mncwabe appealed for the public to comply with Covid-19 regulations, adding that the issue of mass or mandatory vaccination had been a topic of discussion by the church.
He said the government was asking the public to take every precaution.
“We expect as a church that in future it will be a requirement for people to have the Covid-19 vaccine. If your employer is asking you to vaccinate we would say to our members please comply.”
Apostle Collins Dhlomo from the Covenant Fellowship Church International said the church supported the Covid-19 vaccine programme with a focus on voluntary vaccination.
“Once you force people to do something it creates resistance. We can already see a high social media presence against vaccines, and mandatory vaccination could play into that narrative.”
Wendy Kahn of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies said: “There is no doubt that vaccination is pivotal in our efforts to contain this horrific pandemic … We applaud any initiative to increase rates of vaccination towards the goal of containing Covid-19.”