Elderly people in rural Makana struggle to get to vaccine sites

People are paying R60 for transport to Covid vaccination sites in Makhanda, and that’s just for the first jab

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Photo of a woman at her cooking fire

Nokwanda Moni, from Fort Brown, paid R50 to get to Makhanda to be vaccinated against Covid. She has to do it again to get her second jab. Photo: Loyiso Dyongman

  • People living in the rural areas around Makhanda have to hire transport to get to Covid vaccination sites.
  • Some people have paid R60 just to access the first jab.
  • Those who can’t afford it, many of them elderly and vulnerable, are being left behind.

Many elderly residents and farm dwellers in rural areas surrounding Makhanda say they have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Others, who have gone to Makhanda to get vaccinated, say transport costs are high for them.

Siphosethu Ndukwana from Fort Brown, a small village about 35km from Makhanda on the R67, said, “What the department should have done was to have centres even in these small villages and farms like they do when there are elections. Now, we have to travel all the way to Makhanda to get vaccinated. It costs R30 to go there and another R30 to return.”

Ndukwana has been vaccinated.

Nokwanda Moni, 58, also from Fort Brown, said nine people hired a bakkie to get the first vaccine jab last month. It cost them R50 each. They are doing the same for the second dose.

“It is much better when we are a group to hire transport as there is a discount. I even decided to take my 92-year-old mother, who is struggling to walk, to get the vaccine in Makhanda,” said Moni.

Mthetheleli Sam, 54, from Manley Flats farm 40km from Makhanda, has been vaccinated. He said, “We are hitch-hiking and pay R40 return. We do want to get vaccinated but the problem is the distance and paying transport. Remember that some of us are not working and we have huge families at home. You have to pay for all the unemployed family members as you can’t leave them out. We have seen people die in large numbers in families and there is no way to leave others out.”

“The department of health doesn’t come to us in villages and on farms,” said Zithulele Maki, 48, from Martindale village, 32km from Makhanda. “We walk to the tar road and hitch-hike there [to Makhanda]. It is a long distance … You have to wake up very early in the morning.”

Maki is yet to be vaccinated.

Velile Funani, 45, from Martindale village, said, “I don’t have money to go to Makhanda now and will wait for month end with my wife and mother. It is sad for us people living out of town because we have to use money to get services.”

Lydia Jacob, 62, said she has not been vaccinated. “We are a very big family and will need to hire our own transport and not hitch-hike. It is not easy for us to go to Makhanda because we are living far away. But I do want to get vaccinated.”

“Government should make ways for people from rural areas to get vaccinated,” said Jacob.

Head of the Department of Health Makana Subdistrict Mohamed Docrat said they are trying various ways to reach people rural areas.

“We request employers to bring staff to nearest vaccination sites, which is a hall near the clinic or at the hospital. We have requested employers and farm owners to register their workers. Family members who have a phone are also asked to assist. Our community care workers also assist with registration.

“Registration is not a prerequisite to get a vaccine. Registration is now also done at the vaccination sites for those that are unable to self-register. But it helps a lot to register. This saves a lot of time at the vaccination site, as they would not have to wait for long periods,” said Docrat.

He was unable to say what percentage of people over 60 in the Makana municipality area have been vaccinated.

TOPICS:  Covid-19 Health Transport

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