The University of Pretoria pushes for the undocumented to receive COVID-19 shots

Programme looking to ensure people living across informal settlements are not left behind.

The campaign which has been rolled out in Gauteng has seen more than 4,000 people such as the homeless, those living in informal settlements as well as those without identity documents receive their COVID-19 shots. The drive, which is facilitated by the university's Community-Orientated Primary Care research unit is in collaboration with local NGOs, international partners, religious community leaders along with the departments of health and local government. Through the programme, vaccinations have been rolled out in clinics across Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane since October. The project has also seen pop-up vaccination sites being set up in informal settlements as well as in inner cities to enable access for the homeless. Over time, it is expected to roll out in other provinces as well.

"We started this in Pretoria in Tshwane with the homeless people, people who use substances, informal settlements then we also doing it now in Ekurhuleni and Tembisa. There is a lot we do in Johannesburg in Hillbrow, some areas of Soweto depending on those communities are, and then we will move to the other provinces," said Unit Director Professor Jannie Hugo. According to Professor Debashis Basu, who leads the university's public health medicine department, the university’s approach entails working with people living in areas whereby access to fixed vaccination sites was limited. “As part of our comprehensive care, we issue people with a patient-retained booklet called ‘Road to Linked Care’. The book acts as their identity in terms of their medical and vaccination records,” added Basu.