The most compelling argument to get vaccinated is that we all want to go back to the world we had 20 months ago. And we want to stop loved ones, colleagues from dying. Lastly, we want to save economies.
This, in a nutshell, was the message from panellists during a discussion about how businesses can help their staff and communities to get vaccinated.
The panel consisted of Stavros Nicoloau, Chair of the Business for South Africa (B4SA) Health Work Group. Jackie Maimin (CEO) and Dr Sham Moodley (vice-chair): ICPA (Independent Community Pharmacy Association). Dr Simon Strachan, B4SA and CEO South Africa Private Practitioners Forum, and Dr Omolemo Kitchin, chair of Paediatrician Management Group.
The panel again urged big businesses, farms, packhouses to register as a vaccination site in order to ease access for workers. Other options included pop-up vaccination sites or mobile vaccine services.
SA is currently vaccinating around 170 000 a day; the goal is 300 000. A huge effort is needed to step up and reach that target. The panellists challenged South African businesses to be creative and develop incentives to reward workers to get vaccinated. Special treats/freebies at the office, restaurant vouchers, or an extra day’s leave are some ideas.
What else can business do?
- Lead by example. Get CEO and senior staff jabbed and make this visible to staff and other stakeholders (social media).
- Encourage vaccinated staff to share their vaccination stories.
- Build a collage of staff who got vaccinated in a public space.
- Put up a large “thermometer” or visual tracker in a public space that tracks vaccination, the goal being 95% of staff.
Build internal trust and clarity around the vaccine
- Make use of experts that are on standby and would love to share information.
- Have a designated staff member that is well informed about Covid, that workers can ask post questions to.
- Share facts about vaccination wherever staff gathers.
- Drive a positive narrative on the values and benefits of the vaccine.
Simplify the vaccination process
- Ensure that staff knows where the nearest vaccination site is located.
- Create assisted registration drives in communal areas.
- Give employees paid day off to get vaccinated.
- Use company transport to shuttle employees to vaccination sites.
- Large companies, consider a pop-up vaccination site.
- Use excess transport capacity to assist staff’s family members to travel to vaccination sites.
Other new facts that the panel shared, are:
- The Delta variant is more infectious and deadly than other variants.
- The longer we don’t vaccinate the higher the risk for the virus to mutate and develop into an even deadlier version.
- Evidence suggests that Delta makes young people “quicker and sicker” than other variants.
- A very worrying worldwide trend is that productive members of communities are dying, leaving large numbers of orphaned children, as well as skills shortages.
- You can get Covid even if you are fully vaccinated. In which case you still need to isolate for 10 days.
- The fully vaccinated must keep wearing masks as they can carry the same viral load as the unvaccinated, although they are less likely to pick up the virus in the first place.
- There is no evidence to show that anyone died from the vaccine. People who die after receiving the vaccine from Covid had Covid at the time of vaccination and most likely a co-morbidity. The vaccine is safe.
- Pregnant women in the second trimester, and breastfeeding women, can safely be vaccinated.
- Vaccine hesitancy groups: whites/Afrikaans speaking/males.
- Vaccinology is not a new field. Smallpox, measles, polio are all examples of diseases that have either been eradicated or well-controlled through vaccination programmes.