by Ellen Albertz

Elderly residents of the //Kharas region say they fear for their lives as they have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Ernst Jacobs (82) of Berseba, about 70 kilometres north-west of Keetmanshoop, feels they are the vulnerable members of the community and should be made a priority in receiving the vaccine.

Berseba constituency is home to about 9 000 people and comprises Tses village, Vaalgras, Gainachas, and Bethanie, among others.

Jacobs said they live with young adults who are constantly exposing themselves to the virus as they go out to socialise. He said this scares them as the youth can bring the virus to them.

“We heard about the vaccine for Covid-19 on the radio in March already. Then we were informed at the local clinic that a mobile team will come on 26 April, but they never came,” said Jacobs.

At Tses village, Irene Cloete, a community activist, said the sentiments are the same among the elderly.

Cloete noted that the vaccine arrived on 26 April at the Tses Clinic, however, the elderly were unhappy that the vaccine was only meant for frontline workers and young people.

“They called me as they wanted to be vaccinated. We spoke to the clinic and it was only a misunderstanding and they were getting the vaccine,” said Cloete.

Awareness about the vaccination roll-outs is relatively high, says Tses village chairperson Julian Christians. However, he noted there are mixed feelings among the community on vaccination due to misinformation about the side-effects of vaccines.

“Yes, there are regular announcements made and posters put up, but there are no mobile health outreach teams coming to explain these things,” said the chairperson. So far, 118 people have been vaccinated at Tses Clinic.

Vaalgras community members say they are waiting. Unlike Tses and Berseba which have permanent clinics, they only get mobile outreach teams.

Johannes Jahrs (40) a deacon in that community, said people are aware of the vaccination but no health teams have visited them yet.

“The elderly and young people are equally anxious to be vaccinated but we just have to wait,” said Jahrs.

However, the scenario is different in urban areas.

Karasburg district health extension workers have been visiting schools, businesses and communities to inform people about the virus and the vaccines. They are also visiting nearby settlements such as Ariamsvlei and Vioolsdrift as part of their outreaches.

Roswitha Andreas, a 40-year-old teacher at Lordsville Primary School, said they have taken their jabs as frontline workers.

“We took the Sinopharm vaccine. I waited three days and when I realised I’m fine, I took my daughter to be vaccinated,” said Andreas.The official Covid-19 vaccination programme was launched on 16 of April at Keetmanshoop. //Kharas health director Sandra Owoses said the regional office prioritised the district hospitals of Keetmanshoop, Karasberg, Lüderitz and Oranjemund hospitals.

“Our strategy is to first educate the community in all towns and villages whereafter remote and secluded places will be visited by health outreach teams,” said Owoses.

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