The Western Cape Government announced on Thursday 27 May that it would introduce a system to manage walk-ins at vaccination sites. While this on the cards, it did say that it encourages residents to wait for their second appointment SMS. 

WALK-INS UNDERSTANDABLE ALTHOUGH DISCOURAGED  

Western Cape Premier said that although the public is encouraged to wait for an appointment by SMS, those who conduct walk-ins cannot be blamed. 

“Some residents have received SMSs at too short notice, for places too far away from their homes, and many have not yet received any at all. This is causing a lack of trust in the system, with residents feeling they have no choice but to go to a vaccination site to get vaccinated without having an appointment,” he said. 

He added that this is “understandable because these residents are scared of COVID-19 and are desperate to get their life-saving vaccine”. 

Winde said it is wrong to have unused vaccines at a site and not use them on someone over 60, even if they don’t have an appointment, especially when the system isn’t working properly.

STRIKING THE PERFECT BALANCE 

While it is wrong for those over 60 and without an appointment to be turned away, it is also wrong for those who did wait patiently for their SMS to get an appointment and not be able to get vaccinated because so many walk-ins took up the supply.

“This is the balance we must get right in this vaccination programme, and we must learn through experience,” said Winde. 

The Western Cape Government is now giving their local teams control over scheduling the number of people per site, based on the available capacity and vaccines. “Although we are scheduling appointments, the SMSs will still come centrally (via EVDS),” he said. 

By having some control over the scheduling, it is aiming to give between three and seven days-notice, which will increase appointments being met.

The Western Cape will also provide a margin of additional vaccines to sites (size and projected capacity determined) for eligible walk-ins (residents over 60).

“Furthermore, those vaccines that are not administered on the day because of a missed appointment (currently averaging between 5% to 25% of doses) will also be used for someone who is over 60 and who arrives without an appointment,” said Winde. 

“I do want to be very clear, though, that those residents who have received their second SMS and have been invited to receive their vaccine, will be given preference in line with their appointment date and time. This is only fair,” he added. 

NO GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL GET A VACCINE AS A WALK-IN

Winde went on to say that there is no guarantee, at this stage, that you will be vaccinated as an eligible walk-in, and you may wait a long time for one at a site without success.

“We have asked our sites to introduce a queue system so that eligible residents who walk-in can be assisted in terms of this additional margin created or receive a vaccine from a missed appointment. This will be brought online in the next few days,” he said. 

“We, therefore, encourage you to wait for your second SMS, it is coming soon. I guarantee that every person who registered for their vaccine will get vaccinated,” he added. 

Up to 12 000 vaccines will be administered every day next week, starting 31 May 2021, and 24 000 every day the following week, starting 7 June 2021.

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Presh JM Reporter

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