A dilapidated train station in South Africa has been converted into an unlikely Covid-19 vaccination center, with a train parked to bring the vaccine to remote areas in the continent’s worst-affected country.
On Wednesday, about fifteen people waited calmly on the platform, seated on plastic chairs, before getting into the wagon one after the other.
South Africa has so far vaccinated just over 14% of its population of 59 million. To facilitate access to healthcare, a train called “Transvaco” has been specially fitted out by the public company Transnet to bring the vaccine, particularly to rural areas.
“We want to try to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” Paballo Mokwana, the person in charge of the train stationed for two weeks in Springs, about fifty kilometers from Johannesburg, told AFP.
But so far, less than a hundred people have shown up every day. An employee at the station, Zacharia Matuludi, 28, admits to being “too scared”. “The chemicals (…) I don’t know how my body will react,” he explains.
After battling to obtain anti-Covid vaccines and falling behind in its immunization campaign, South Africa has faced a rejection of the vaccine by part of its population.
In the makeshift observation area across the dock, where patients stay for a few minutes after the injection, Olive Selati, 40, says he heard “a lot of stories” about the vaccination. And hesitated a moment before finally deciding to come.
A little further on, a caregiver explains the different vaccines, the precautions to be taken after the injection and the possible side effects.
One of the recurring concerns in the country most affected by AIDS in the world is whether the vaccine could have an effect on antiretroviral treatment against HIV.
And another factor of hesitation among young people is the recommendation to avoid alcohol for a while after the injection. The number of vaccine candidates is lower on Friday, note the caregivers, “because it is the weekend”.
The country, which already has more than 2.7 million cases and nearly 80,000 deaths, has just opened vaccination to people over 18 years old.
Source: TV5 – health