By Xolile Bhengu for IOL
The Department of Health hopes to have the first phase of the digital vaccine passport system implemented by the end of the week.
The passport soft-launched on Tuesday morning for testing.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla made the announcement during the launch of the mobile Covid-19 vaccine site at uMlazi township’s Umlazi Plaza as part of the Vooma Vaccination Weekend.
Phaahla said the pandemic had accelerated plans by the department, as it headed towards a universal healthcare system, to have a more digitised patient system.
“We will keep improving the system to verify that it captures the correct details for every person that has visited a vaccination site.”
The passport could be used to verify being vaccinated and allow access to sport facilities and music events, he said.
He said it was crucial for the department that KZN – which is a tourism-focused province – avoids a possible fourth wave.
He said the government was opting to engage the public about the Covid-19 vaccine instead of enforcing law enforcement for spreading false information about the vaccine.
The Health Department said the 18-34 year age group had not brought in the numbers they had initially hoped for in the vaccine roll-out programme, and the over 60 age group had challenges such as lack of transportation to reach vaccine sites.
It said KZN had only reached 11.1% of the required 70% for herd immunity.
Phaahla said only 13 million people had been fully vaccinated and the country needed more.
The government wants to have 70% of the adult population vaccinated by the end of the year.
He said while the initial uptake of Covid-19 vaccines had been good, a lot of misinformation had led people to become scared.
“Covid-19 forced us to revisit and improve our digital health platforms. The pandemic enabled us to have one health registration system through EVDS to merge both the public and private health system. We still have to discuss how post the pandemic the system could be utilised. It could be converted to an e-health file system, to have a proper medical history verification process through just scanning an ID number,” said Phaahla.
KZN MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane said uMlazi as the second largest township in the country had been identified as one of the areas where the department needed to focus to ensure that people get vaccinated.
“Initially we were everywhere to drive the vaccine roll-out. But (Phaahla) has asked us to focus our efforts where we can see we have the lowest numbers.
“The private sector has come out to support us. For instance Toyota helped us to set up a vaccine site for its 8 000 employees, with the additional agreement that the site would be made available to the local community as well.
“Other companies that have come to the party are Spar and Hulett. We cannot do this alone and we need partnerships and we are asking even taxi owners to join us,” said Simelane.