People without identity documents could be vaccinated from October - health department

Motorcade promotes Covid vaccination in Nelson Mandela Bay

By Thamsanqa Mbovane and Mkhuseli Sizani

26 August 2021

The health department and GCIS drove through Tambo Village and surrounding areas in Kariega on Wednesday to encourage people to get vaccinated. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

The health department appears to have committed to vaccinating undocumented people from October.

A motorcade with loudhailers snaked through the streets of Kariega on Wednesday to encourage people to get vaccinated as Covid-19 infections remain high in Nelson Mandela Bay. It was part of the district Government Communication and Information System’s (GCIS) plan to promote vaccinations in townships.

GCIS spokesperson Zukiswa Mqumbisa said it was encouraging to see young people who came out in numbers to get vaccinated. “We want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, especially men.”

“People should stop listening to false information. Let’s help to spread the correct information about vaccines provided by the Department of Health and World Health Organisation,” she said.

District health manager Carlene de Vos said the Pfizer vaccine was being used at most sites.

Resident Nwabisa Ndyendye said she was vaccinated at the Tamboville site. “I was very nervous because I don’t like needles. My next and last jab will be in October. People must come and vaccinate … there’s nothing wrong with vaccines,” she said.

Meanwhile in Gqeberha, undocumented immigrants and South Africans are calling for vaccines to be easily accessible.

On Wednesday, GroundUp spoke to undocumented immigrants and homeless people who are desperate for the vaccine.

Mavis from Zimbabwe is a hawker who has recovered from Covid-19. She said, “Covid-19 kills whether you are documented or not. There is no way government can defeat the spread of this virus as long as undocumented foreigners are excluded.” She said many immigrants were unable to renew their documents or submit new applications due to Home Affairs offices being closed.

Remmy-Leni from Tanzania works as a barber. He has been in the country since 2008 but his work permit expired in January last year. “I desperately need the vaccine but my work permit expired and I don’t have money to go to KZN or Gauteng to renew it. I also don’t know when our office here will open again.” Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

Eugene Wait from Sydenham is homeless. “Government must make vaccination as easy as testing for TB and HIV. Yesterday, I tested for HIV without being asked for an ID. “If government leaves us unvaccinated, what about the safety of other people? We scavenge for food from bins, shops and soup kitchens. During the hard lockdown they put us in community halls and camps to mitigate the spread of the virus. But now the vaccine is available and we are left out. This is unfair because we all need the vaccine,” he said.

Eastern Cape Department of Health head Dr Rolene Wagner said that the latest national circular dated 19 August states that undocumented people will be able to get vaccinated from October. The exact wording of the circular, as sent by Wagner to GroundUp is:

“Undocumented persons (both South African and foreign nationals) cannot currently be registered or vaccinated. This includes those with an old birth certificate that does not include an ID number. A solution which will allow undocumented persons to be vaccinated using their HPRS number is currently being developed and is expected
to be available from October 2021.”

Wagner said in cases of undocumented people, a patient registry reference number could be used. This is expected to be available from October. “We will only be able to vaccinate them after further guidance from [the national department],” she said.