“We are at a historical moment in time to turn the tide against the coronavirus pandemic. The central weapon to achieve this is through mass vaccination that will reduce mortality, protect the health care system from being overwhelmed, achieve adequate population coverage and develop herd immunity to reduce transmission.”
This was the message from Western Cape Chief Director: Health and Strategy, Dr Krish Vallabhjee, at an agricultural forum meeting that was recently held in Paarl. According to Vallabhjee, there is a real and very likely risk of a potential third wave, and even a fourth, as it will be impossible to achieve herd immunity within the next few months. “The risk is accentuated by a range of potential factors including viral mutation, greater population movement as restrictions get lifted, Covid-fatigue and reduced vigilance to maintain protocols, and the coming winter season – when people tend to stay indoors.”
He called on all agri stakeholders to blunt the impact of a possible third wave. “The success of this mass vaccination programme is going to require each one of us to play our role in whatever way possible. As health workers, at the workplace, as well as ambassadors within our communities to encourage our people to vaccinate and collaborate across sectors, communities and government as a whole of society.”
The aims of the Covid-19 vaccine include preventing severe illness and death, reducing transmission, and protecting our health system. “Vaccine hesitation is a real risk, and we should encourage all roleplayers to embrace the vaccination programme as it is the best weapon to protect yourself and your community. Inform workers with facts and expose vaccination myths.”
The South African vaccination programme was launched in Khayelitsha on 17 February 2021. With the aim to vaccinate health workers during phase one. To date, approximately 25 000 health care workers have been vaccinated.
Vulnerable groups, due to age (over 60) and those with comorbidities, and at-risk workers will receive the vaccines during phase two of the programme. “It is still unclear which sectors constitute the at-risk grouping,” he said. Agricultural representatives have lobbied that the sector should be considered as an at-risk group and will continue to do so.
Vallabhjee emphasised that combating the Covid-19 pandemic is not just the sole responsibility of the health department. “It needs a united effort across Government, business, organized labour and civil society.”
Caption: Agri’s Got Talent 2020 finalist and essential worker, Maychen Manuels, supports the Covid-19 protocols. Manuels is from Crispy Farming, Coshla, Prince Alfred Hamlet.
Find Covid-19 Awareness posters ( in English, Afrikaans, Sotho and Xhosa) for your agribusiness here.
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