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S. Africa: Health workers on a mission to breaking the rural-urban vaccine divide

People wait to get vaccinated outside an ambulance which has been converted to facilitate vaccinations at a COVID 19 vaccination event in Manenberg.   -  
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RODGER BOSCH/AFP or licensors

South Africa

South Africa is currently experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants. A group of South African health workers criss-cross the countryside to bring Covid-19 vaccines to rural communities.

If 45% of adults are fully vaccinated in the country, the Southern African nation observes –similarly to other parts of the world- a rural-urban vaccine divide.

Among factors like geography or education, misinformation also contributes to vaccine hesitancy. Today, the health professionals’ team were warmly welcomed at the Lundini Primary School.

"We all underestimated the level of mistrust, the fears, of use of social media, amongst young to people […] But if you get the vaccines to people, people are likely to get vaccinated. So we're finding higher uptake in rural compared to urban settings in South Africa. Because these populations have continued to have unequal, or in many cases no access, to vaccinations. And now that were getting that to people, you can see people lining up you know, for vaccinations. You barely see this in urban settings in South Africa anymore."

Armed with a megaphone and coolers containing the vaccines, workers from the non-profit organization Right to care take doses door-to-door in this Eastern Cape area. Their mission is as much an awareness campaign mission as a vaccination campaign. Indeed, they are often faced with rejection and asked to leave.

The mission continues elsewhere, Right to Care set up vaccination sites in the remotest areas of the Eastern and Northern Cape and share the experience with other provinces.

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