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Dark reality: Funeral parlours get behind COVID-19 vaccination drive

Funeral parlours took to the streets with a convoy of hearses to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The outh African Funeral Palours Association is concerned by the number of deaths which surpassed 90 000 in the country on Tuesday. (Photo: Freepik)
Written by Esau Dlamini

A convoy of hearses drove through Soweto yesterday as funeral parlours took to the streets to convince residents to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. As the fourth wave kicks in across most parts of the country fuelled by the highly infectious Omicron variant, the government is on a mission to get as many people vaccinated.

More than 40 funeral parlours affiliated with the South African Funeral Palours Association (SAFPA) took part o support the government’s Vooma Vaccination drive.

SAFPA spokesperson, Sipho Mofokeng, said they were concerned by how many people have died from the virus.

“The association is here to urge residents and to dispel the myths associated with vaccines. The issue of hesitancy is also a big problem and we need to ensure that we expose people to the right information.  We have experienced a lot of people dying in a short space of time and this creates financial distress because some families are poor and unemployed,” he said.

Keeping the nation safe

Owner of Vuyo’s Funeral Services, Vuyo Mabindisa said he took part because it was important to keep the nation safe.

“We will experience a greater sense of freedom and economic activity, once the majority is vaccinated.  Vaccines are free and safe, and they protect against severe illnesses,” Mabindisa said.

He added that funeral parlours and workers are at the coalface of the pandemic.

“Our members were burying multiple family members at the peak of the third wave. This led to the industry running out of cold storage and coffins. That was a dire situation that we don’t want to go back to,”  he said.

‘Get vaccinated before holiday season’

Molefi Kupane from Kupane Funeral Services urged people to get vaccinated before they go on holiday.

“We want people to be safe during this festive season. Before you go home, make sure that you get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you happen to have elderly people close to you who are not vaccinated, go with them to your nearest vaccination site,” said Kupane.

Vilikazi resident Samuel Kubheka, 64, encouraged men to follow his example and get vaccinated.

“I took the vaccine as soon as I knew that I was eligible and would like to encourage other men to do it. It is our collective responsibility to join hands in the fight against this deadly pandemic. We have enough vaccines and capacity to vaccinate everyone,” he added.

Widower adds his voice

Simon Mazibuko (44) from Tladi has firsthand experience of having lost someone dear.

“It was a very difficult time for us as a family when we buried my wife because the mourning period was short and the number of people was limited. I would like appeal to everyone to get vaccinated in order to save lives.”

Mabindisa said the  number of hospitalisations and deaths would drop if more people were vaccinated.

South Africa recorded 13 143 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday evening and the current positivity rate sits at 24.9%. – Health-e News

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Esau Dlamini

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