By Ebi Kesiena
A COVID-19 vaccine train in South Africa has stated that people in remote areas have been encouraged to take the vaccine as a means to protect themselves and those around them from the virus.
According to Doctor and Train Manager, Dr Paballo Mokwana, the train’s mandate is to vaccinate as many people as possible while making its way through various towns in South Africa.
Mokwana who explained that the train is providing ways of reaching out into the community and persuading people, admitted that there is still a long road ahead and they would encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated.
Mokwana noted that their outreach program, where a team is assigned off-site to vaccinate staff members at various companies and factories around Swartkops station, has been helpful in bringing up the numbers of people vaccinated in the area.
Mokwana is also optimistic about the role the train can plan in reaching heard immunity for South Africans to get back to “whatever is left of normal,” as soon as possible.
For Thembalwethu Jokwana, getting vaccinated is something he believes he has to do, not only for himself, but to also protect those closest to him.
“I am here to vaccinate, to protect myself and my family. I’m staying with my father and his wife. My father had diabetes, so I’m trying to protect them and my mom and me so that we can be safe,” he said.
His friend, Wongalwethu Mbanjwa, a gym fanatic, couldn’t wait to get vaccinated so he can finally get back to the gym. After trying to get his jab elsewhere and finding the facility closed, he heard about the vaccination train from his friend Jokwana, who gets to and from work by passenger train and spotted the Transvaco train on his way home.
“My friend, when he come from work, he uses the train as a transport, you know, so when…his stop is here in the Swartkop. So, when he came, you know, at home today he told me about this so that we can go and get vaccinated…We started somewhere else but it was closed. So, he said to me, no man, I saw a train at Swartkops so we must come here. So that’s how I came here,” said Mbanjwa.
Vaccine hesitancy, together with access to facilities in remote areas, are some of the major stumbling blocks to the vaccine rollout program in South Africa.
Many people do not trust that vaccines are safe and through information spread through social media, are not willing to take the shot.