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Premier Alan Winde visits targeted, safe and community-led Vaxi Taxi in Gugulethu

19 Nov 2021

Premier Winde visits targeted, safe and community-led Vaxi Taxi in Gugulethu, ahead of rural launch in Riviersonderend this weekend.

The Western Cape Government is working to increase its vaccine rollout in the province by taking a targeted, secure and community-led approach to the rollout of vaccines in the province through the EMS Vaxi Taxi initiative. In taking this initiative further, the first rural Vaxi Taxi will be launched in Riviersonderend this weekend.

Premier Winde said: “The Vaxi Taxi service works in partnership with local community stakeholders, such as the Siyakula Soup Kitchen who we visited today in Gugulethu. Community stakeholders, such as Siyakula, invite the Provincial Department of Health to use their facility as pop-up vaccine site.”

The EMS Vaxi Taxi collaborates with a range of local community partners. It is a flexible two-ambulance model where the ambulances park across from each other with a gazebo in-between and the ambulance itself becomes the vaccination cubicle. The shaded space in between is then used as the observation area.

The EMS Vaxi Taxi is operated by interns, volunteers and EMS staff as part of their roster duties and as such does not detract from their core functions.

Prior to a Vaxi Taxi pop-up, the EMS staff join forces with local community leaders going door-to-door and notifying residents of the upcoming vaccination opportunity as part of the broader social mobilization strategy. Premier Winde commented: “This ensures that we bring vaccines to those who need it most.”

In the short time since its launch in October, the EMS Vaxi Taxi has vaccinated almost 2000 people in neighbourhoods across the city, from Gugulethu to Tafelsig, from Kulisriver to Khayelitsha. “We thank all the CANs, neighbourhood watch groups, car washes, factories and other community activists who have hosted us in their communities and assisted with social mobilisation activities both going door-to-door and on these WhatsApp streets”, said Premier Winde.

The Vaxi Taxi has visited 35 locations so far, and this is just the beginning. This weekend our first rural Vaxi Taxi will be launched in Riviersonderend. Premier Winde said: “While our EMS Vaxi Taxi is focused on taking Covid-19 to your front door, we are also excited about all the relationships we will build and through these collaborations hope to build the trust, and a safer society together”.

Premier Winde said: “EMS is affected by complex social issues and safety issues remain a challenge for ambulance crews. But, EMS can also be part of building a better society and support our communities. The Covid-19 vaccination program presents an opportunity to build trust through strengthening relationships with community groups.  We believe this will make an important contribution towards protecting ambulances and developing a safer environment in which to deliver emergency care.”

“Improving access to vaccination sites is a key pillar of our vaccination programme in the Western Cape. That is why we are increasing the number of pop-up sites in communities that have low vaccine uptake. This will make it easier, and more convenient for these residents to get vaccinated, and has proven to be a successful strategy in improving vaccine take-up. No person should be left behind in the vaccination programme because of where they live, and our Vaxi Taxi initiatives is another innovation that demonstrates our commitment to this fundamental principle”, added Premier Winde.

In addition to the Vaxi Taxi initiative, we are taking a targeted approach, focusing on communities with low uptake, through initiatives including:

    • Weekend vaccinations in dedicated areas;  
    • ‘Boots on the Ground drives’ where mobile pop-up vaccination stations are set up;  
    • The ‘Ask a Doctor’ campaign which aims to advise residents regarding their vaccine concerns.
    • Repurposed the Mobile Wellness bus’s function, which is used for our school health programmes, to do outreach vaccinations to vulnerable outlying communities;  
    • Partnering with the SASSA to assist with registration and vaccinations at BOXER stores;
    • Working with the Cipla Foundation to deploy innovative, movable vaccination stations into various local communities;
    • Partnering with farming communities, such as in Theewaterskloof, to assist farm workers with registration and also being vaccinated;
    • Active mobile outreaches to farms which enables smaller communities to be vaccinated;
    • Red Dot Taxis are assisting with transport for those in far rural areas;
    • Bedridden patients are receiving their vaccinations at home;
    • Onsite assistance to register is now available at all sites;
    • Opened the biggest mass vaccination site in the Province at the CTICC and Athlone Stadium which also has a drive-through service; and
    • Health interns alongside, Community Health workers and Neighbourhood watch members partnered for a community door to door registration drives.
       

Premier Winde said: “To those of you who are still hesitant to get vaccinated, I understand the importance of having factual information from reliable sources to ensure that you make the right decision for yourself. I encourage you to take advantage of initiatives such as the Vaxi Taxi, visit our website for regular accurate updated information or speak with your local health care provider, should you have any concerns so that you can make an informed decision.”

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