DEPUTY Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya has urged people heading to vaccination sites not to drink alcohol to avoid experiencing adverse side-effects.
Siweya was speaking at the Bosman Taxi Rank pop-up vaccination station yesterday.
With her were Tshwane MMC for Roads and Transport Dikeledi Selowa and Gauteng MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo.
She said the Presidency, through the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, decided to support the Transport Department’s initiative to encourage people to vaccinate, especially the men, taking into consideration their reported hesitancy.
Siweya said as taxi drivers were busy on the road and had indicated that they did not have the time to make it to vaccination sites, an initiative such as this would aid the government in bringing vaccination closer to them.
“So, while they wait for their taxis to get full so they can commute people, they can also vaccinate, and at the same time, spread the message and clarify that vaccination is the right thing to do, particularly with the threat of the fourth wave of infections looming large.
“We want to ensure that by the time the fourth wave hits the country, we have managed to at least get up to 60% or 70% of the population vaccinated.”
Of great importance, however, was the need for the government to urge people not to consume alcohol when heading for their covid-19 vaccine. They should also stay away from alcohol for at least three days after the jab.
Siweya urged people to be honest with nurses during the screening process and not hide important information to ensure that healthcare workers advised them accordingly.
“We want people to spread the correct information because Covid-19 is real and it kills.
“Those who go and vaccinate and lie to healthcare workers during the screening process only end up having side-effects and spread fake news about the vaccine being unsafe.”
With the younger population now being included in the vaccination programme, Siweya said they were pleading with them not to drink alcohol and vaccinate.
She said the government had dropped the ball in communicating the “Do’s and Don’ts of the vaccination process”, but would be looking to get the crucial information out as soon as possible through the various platforms.
Mamabolo said the visit to the Bosman Taxi Rank was to monitor compliance and set up the mobile vaccination site was important. This was because the rank served as a key strategic transport mode not only for the City of Tshwane, but other neighbouring provinces as well.
He said it was crucial to promote and drive the vaccination programme in the province in as many areas as possible as there was a huge population to serve in Gauteng.
Mamabolo said the government wanted to bring education and messages that clarified vaccination concerns and wanted to rope in the taxi industry as it served over 70% of the population.
“We need to encourage people to take up the vaccine and we are pleased with the response from the drivers as reports have indicated hesitancy from men. So we are pushing back the anti-vaccine messages.
“If the taxi drivers who are the biggest carriers of public transport are affected by Covid-19 that will have a devastating impact on the public system and the economy as they carry over 70% of the public.”
He commended Selowa for taking her jab at the rank and leading by example.
“I commend the MMC because this goes to show people that it doesn’t matter where the vaccine is and that it is the same vaccine everywhere.”
Selowa said that in Tshwane, they would be encouraging councillors to take part in vaccinating and assisting the Health Department in countering some of the fake news that was hampering vaccination efforts.
Additionally, she said the City would be continuing with its bid to increase the number of vaccination sites, as with the recently opened site at Wonderboom airport, as they wanted to avoid crowding and get more people to vaccinate.
“Fake news is our biggest problem at the moment, so we need to put it out to the residents to know where to go and communicate effectively with them that we, as councillors and leaders, are also doing our part.
“It would be a beautiful thing to reach that herd immunity, especially in the townships.”