Online COVID vaccine register leaves senior citizens frustrated
Some seniors have taken to social media to vent their frustrations with government’s online registration portal for the COVID-19 vaccine.
As it gears up for phase two of the country's vaccine rollout, the national Department of Health last Friday announced the electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) would be available to persons 60 years and above.
The EVDS, the official online register for the COVID-19 vaccine, was initially unveiled in February, only allowing healthcare workers to register on the portal.
To open up the system to more citizens, the health department has encouraged people over 60 years old to start registering for their vaccines via the virtual self-registration portal.
However, the registration process has suffered teething problems, with some registered users saying they have not received the confirmation SMS as stipulated.
According to them, some people received SMSes while others didn’t. On Twitter, @DDL tweeted: “@COVID_19_ZA @HealthZA It has been over 48 hours and no confirmation SMS has been received.”
Responding to the health minister’s tweet on the popular social network, @Applyyourmind tweeted: “And could you fix the #EVDS so that we get an SMS confirmation? 2.5 days and counting. Your info says within 24 hours. So many friends and Twitter friends have had no response. If you can’t confirm, how will we ever get a message to say where to go and when?”
Another user @diondorfman tweeted: “@HealthZA Has anyone actually received an SMS or e-mail yet confirming registration − a positive receipt / confirmation of registration soon after registration would give people confidence the process is completed correctly.”
Other readers have also shared with ITWeb that they have not received the confirmation SMS.
The SMS, as the department noted, would be sent to the phone number used to register, confirming a person is registered. It also means the EVDS has the person’s details in a queue to be scheduled for the vaccine.
In an interview with TV news broadcaster eNCA, the department’s acting COO Milani Wolmarans said users will receive the SMS, indicating they have registered. However, for those that did not receive the SMS, Wolmarans advised them to register again to receive the registration SMS.
“We are almost 100% sure that everybody that has tried out the system will receive their SMSes. In case you haven’t received your SMS, please just register again.”
Digital health first
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize last week explained it is the first time in the country’s democratic history that a major public health campaign is supported by one digital system for all South Africans.
Mkhize stated that making the EVDS available to more people marked a significant milestone, not only for the vaccination campaign, but for SA’s advancement towards universal health coverage.
The EVDS can be accessed via cellphone, tablet or computer with an Internet connection. According to the department, it aims to co-ordinate, ensure facilities that are accredited are on the system, co-ordinate the supply of vaccines, enable a pre-booking and vaccination system, and record who is and isn’t vaccinated, as well as any information that will help the department with planning, execution and monitoring of the vaccination.
South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination programme phase two is scheduled to kick-off in mid-May.
Based on the department’s targets and timelines, it will start with the group above 60 years old in mid-May, moving to persons 40 years and above from July. This will be followed by frontline workers above the 40-year age group.
It will then move to congregate settings such as old age homes and other institutions. By this time, the department believes the majority of those with comorbidities will be covered, including undiagnosed comorbidities.
The period for phase two of the vaccine rollout is projected to last six months, from May to October.
This week, Mkhize revealed government hopes to inoculate 46.2 million South Africans by March 2022. However, this is provided the country receives the millions of vaccines the nation has secured from drug-makers.
“This tally excludes the 500 000 that will be vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol. We are also hopeful that COVAX will be able to deliver 1.2 million doses this quarter.”
Turning to the EVDS, Mkhize stated that as of Monday at 6pm, 343 420 senior citizens had already registered on the COVID-19 vaccine online registration portal.
“We call on all South Africans to assist their friends, family and neighbours who are 60 years and older to register on the EVDS by accessing the portal online at vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za.”