Francois Krause, a 51-year-old car guard near a Parow refuge for the homeless, had his Covid-19 vaccine there last month, in a drive to get jabs into the arms of society’s most vulnerable.
“They asked us for our date of birth and registered us on the system where we received our Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” says Mr Krause. “The process went quick; they gave us our vaccination cards and reminded us to keep it on us at all times.”
He was among at least 25 homeless people who received the single-dose vaccine at the Mould Empower Serve (MES) Drop-in Centre, in Parow, on Monday August 23.
To date, 150 homeless people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the Parow area, says Wilma Piek, from the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID).
“We have been assisted by the provincial Department of Health in terms of organising the vaccination roll-out and our local Reed Street clinic are the ones who physically came and did the vaccinations in our area,” she said.
Mes is a non-profit organisation that provides shelter, food, job opportunities and more to the homeless and the poor. It and the VRCID opened the Parow centre at the beginning of March.
According to Mes spokeswoman Anelle Erasmus, the centre is open from Monday to Friday and caters for up to 40 people a day. They can sleep there when the weather is bad.
The homeless, refugees, migrants, the disabled and other vulnerable groups are all being included in the vaccination drive, according to provincial health department spokeswoman Shimoney Regter.
District health teams worked with NPOs and local organisations to gauge how many homeless people needed jabs so that no one was left behind, she said.
“Before visiting a shelter, our community-based or day-hospital teams visit the facility to mobilise residents and to share information on the benefits of vaccination. On the day of vaccination, residents are again counselled before being vaccinated. Residents have also received vaccine information pamphlets during our outreaches,” she said.
Even homeless people without IDs or no access to online registration are being included.
“Residents who are undocumented have been accommodated and registered using the paper-based registration form,” said Ms Regster, adding that the document was then “back-captured” on the electronic vaccination data system (EVDS).
The next vaccination drive at the drop-in centre is on Friday September 10.