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WCape uses eSports to drive vaccination among youth

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The Western Cape Department of Health and Ekasi Esports have partnered to host a series of eSports pop-up tournaments to promote COVID-19 vaccination awareness and education among the youth.

The first tournament kicks off today at the Khayelitsha Thusong Centre, and educational messages about vaccines will be communicated while local gamers participate in the challenge.

During the tournament, the Western Cape Department of Health will be on site to administer vaccines and advise the youth that vaccination means there is little chance of ending up in hospital with severe COVID-19.

In addition, the department, as a partner of Ekasi Esports, will ensure all mobile and console-based gaming activities at the Thusong Centre take place in a socially-distanced environment with easy access to sanitisers and spare face masks.

James Kruger, director of the Khayelitsha Eastern Substructure of the Western Cape Department of Health, says: “This is a great opportunity for the youngsters in Khayelitsha. We all need to get vaccinated and save our summer.”

“We’re excited about our involvement with the Western Cape Department of Health, as we can help them communicate the vaccine message through our social media channels and in-person gaming events,” notes Perfect Zikhali, MD of Ekasi Esports.

“We know that this new partnership will go a long way towards advancing the pro-vaxx message in townships across the province. Gamers who are particularly skilled in games like FIFA 22 and Tekken 7 are now looked up to in many communities in the same way township youth idolise the sports stars of the track and field.”

Vaccine hesitancy has hampered government’s efforts to reach herd immunity in South Africa.

As a result, provincial government departments are exploring a number of ways to educate the population about vaccine efficacy. In addition, national government is considering a mandatory vaccination policy to improve uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Ekasi Esports, mobile eSports and gaming are well-suited to millions of township gamers because competing or simply entertaining doesn’t require additional hardware. In addition, mobile gaming where competitors are virtual, respects the current need to keep safe.

“As we’re seeing with the Khayelitsha vaccination drive and COVID-19 awareness campaign, gaming can be a force for good and a powerful agent of positive social change,” concludes Zikhali.

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