The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies hosted a webinar to unpack global COVID-19 vaccine roll-out strategies. The Community Scholar workshop engaged with civil society organisations and activists working to ensure vaccine literacy, a successful vaccine roll-out and equity in access to vaccines.
The webinar was facilitated by Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) member Mr Mzamo Zondi and Ms Philisiwe Mazibuku, a member of the Right2Know Campaign. Panellists included Ms Cathy Kodiemoka from the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA); Dr Lucas Ngoetjana of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC); Ms Nomfundo Mkhaba of Waste for Change (NPC); nurse Ms Ngazini Ngidi and Mr Tinashe Njanji of the People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM-SA).
‘Allocation of vaccines to the various priority groups is being guided by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC). The Committee advises the Health Ministry on all matters pertaining to coronavirus vaccine development and roll-out. The vaccination systems will be based on pre-vaccination registration and an appointment system. All those vaccinated are placed on a national register and are provided with a vaccination card which will be required for overseas travel,’ said Kodiemoka.
The panellists agreed that there is an urgent need for civil society activists to upskill on vaccine literacy and virology and to establish systems to closely monitor pharmaceutical company profiteering and regulatory oversight.
Ngazini said that, while there has been progress, ‘Civil society organisations should also play a supportive role in communities to educate them on vaccinations. This will curb the spread of misinformation. We have already seen myths and misinformation spread about COVID-19 through social media. This information is usually not accompanied by scientifically tested evidence and validated sources,’ she said.
The panellists argued that monitoring the step-by-step process of vaccination of health care workers could help to improve South Africa’s strategy in rolling out other phases of vaccination.