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The Department of Health has announced that R100 grocery vouchers can now be redeemed by people over the age of fifty receiving their first COVID-19 vaccination.
The department first announced the vouchers for over 60s in October. This allowed people that received their first vaccine dose in November to redeem a R100 Vooma Voucher for groceries at Shoprite, Checkers, and Usave stores around the country.
Government says that the vouchers are aimed at offsetting the cost that older people incur travelling to vaccination sites. As a result, they hope this encourages more people to get vaccinated.
As of 18 November, just under two-thirds (63%) of people over 60 years of age have received their COVID-19 vaccinations in South Africa. For the 50 to 59 population, this figure stands at just under three in five (57.95%).
However, these statistics reflect people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. As a result, rates of fully vaccinated people may be lower.
(Want to learn how to explore these stats yourself? Read our guide on how to keep track of the COVID-19 vaccine stats in South Africa.)
“The Department of Health’s immediate priority is to vaccinate as many people aged fifty years and older ahead of the anticipated 4th wave, because over 80% of Covid-19 related deaths have occurred in this age group,” the department said in a statement.
Will the Vooma Vouchers increase COVID-19 vaccination rates?
The programme has only run for a limited period. However, initial results of the pilot programme haven’t been promising.
The department says the pilot wanted to gauge the effect of small, guaranteed incentives to encourage vaccination.
“Unfortunately, the uptake of Vooma Vouchers among has been poor, with only 8 135 redeemed to date. We have also not seen a significant uptick in vaccinations among over sixties”, Dr David Harrison, national lead for demand acceleration, said in a statement.
Harrison added that government is still analysing the results.
“We are trying to understand the reasons for this slow uptake. We are only two weeks in and it may be that the message takes time to filter down to everyone. But we don’t have the luxury of time with the fourth wave approaching and must adapt our strategy quickly if it doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect.”
The department acknowledges that the remaining unvaccinated group may be “particularly hard to reach or to persuade”.
However, it still wishes to test the effect of expanding the offer. It says it hopes that expanding the offer will enable more people to get vaccinated by offsetting the costs.
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