Maria More told Health-e News that it took her three consecutive days to get her vaccine after being turned away.

“I went early in the morning only to find hundreds of other people. I didn’t get vaccinated and was told to return the following day,” said More.

She has appealed to authorities to increase access to the vaccine by including clinics as sites. This would save many people transport costs.

“We use our last bit of money to get to the hospital only to be turned away,” she said.

Another resident, David Marumo, agreed with More adding that the Free State Health Department needed to employ more staff at the Botshabelo District Hospital.

“We do not have enough staff at our hospital. They should hire more people so that the vaccination process can speed up,” said Marumo.

Bringing the vaccines to the people

Thato Mongali slept in the hospital parking area before he could get his jab and reckons the rollout should be taken to the people.

“Free State hasn’t introduced mobile stations like in Gauteng. They haven’t taken this seriously,” Mongali added.

Mondli Mvambi, the spokesman for the department of health, said the allocation of doses was limited which forced them to decide on the hospital as the only vaccination site in the area.

He said should the situation improve, the department would consider selecting a number of clinics to serve community members in Botshabelo. Mvambi was wary of criminal elements and feared facilities might be vandalised to gain access to the vaccines.

“The department is also looking at the number of walk-ins and registrations before deciding what to do. We are currently working on how to tackle farming communities and numbers will also determine our course of action,” Mvambi added.

Botshabelo is the largest township in the Free State with a population of 1.5 million people. Besides the Botshabelo District Hospital, there are 12 clinics operating at normal hours, and one 24/7. – Health-e News