The Department of Health has extended the offer of R100 grocery vouchers to people in their 50s who receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from 18 November 2021.
This comes after the department announced that during November, R100 vouchers, redeemable at the Shoprite group of food retailers, would be offered to people aged 60 and older.
However, the department’s Vaccination Demand Task Team Lead, Dr David Harrison, said the uptake of the coupons has been poor, with only 8 135 redeemed to date.
“We have also not seen a significant uptick in vaccinations among the over 60s,” Harrison said.
For older people in particular, Harrison said vaccination may determine whether families spend their festive season visiting relatives in hospital or even attending funerals.
“We are only two weeks in and it may be that the message takes time to filter down to everyone. However, we don’t have the luxury of time with the fourth wave approaching and must adapt our strategy quickly if it doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect,” he stressed.
The data shows that almost two-thirds of people over 60 years have been vaccinated.
“For this reason, the department plans to test the expansion of the offer to people in their 50s as well.”
Over four million people aged 50 and older are still unjabbed and the department hopes the incentive will enable a substantial proportion of them to come forward.
According to the department, the vouchers – dubbed Vooma Vouchers – are meant to make it easier for older people to get vaccinated by offsetting some of the costs they incur getting to vaccination sites.
The immediate priority, according to the department, is to inoculate as many people aged 50 and above ahead of the anticipated fourth wave because over 80% of COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in this age group.
“Three in five people aged 50 years and older have had at least one dose of vaccination and reaching most of the remainder will substantially reduce the number of hospitalisations and deaths over the festive period and into the new year,” said Harrison.
The pilot was to gauge the potential effect of small, guaranteed incentives to encourage people to vaccinate – especially those for whom travel and related costs might be a barrier.
Source: South African Government News Agency