South Africa: Health workers on mission to break the rural-urban immunization divide
South Africa is currently experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases caused by two omicron subvariants. A group of South African health workers criss-cross the countryside to bring Covid-19 vaccines to rural communities.
While 45% of adults are fully immunized in the country, the southern African nation is seeing – as in other parts of the world – a rural-urban vaccination divide.
Among factors such as geography or education, misinformation also contributes to vaccine hesitancy. Today, the team of health professionals was warmly welcomed at the Primary School of Lundini.
“We have all underestimated the level of mistrust, the fears, the use of social networks, from young people to people […] But if you get people vaccinated, people will probably get vaccinated. So we see higher usage in rural areas compared to urban areas in South Africa. Because these populations continued to have unequal access, or in many cases no access, to vaccinations. And now that it was happening to people, you can see people lining up, you know, for vaccinations. You hardly see that in urban settings in South Africa.“
Armed with a megaphone and coolers containing the vaccines, workers from the non-profit organization Right to care go door to door in this area of the Eastern Cape. Their mission is as much an awareness mission as a vaccination campaign. Indeed, they are often faced with rejection and asked to leave.
The mission continues elsewhere, Right to Care has set up vaccination sites in the most remote areas of the Eastern and Northern Cape and is sharing the experience with other provinces.