NewsWorldThe train hoping to fast-track SA's vaccine rollout

The train hoping to fast-track SA’s vaccine rollout

South Africa is deploying a train to drive its lagging vaccination campaign forward and inoculate those living in rural communities. David Doyle has more.

The train now standing at platform one could help protect you against COVID-19.

With South Africa’s inoculation campaign off to a slow start, a locomotive is being deployed to administer vaccines.

Last month vaccinations were made available to all adults, as the government ramps up its rollout.

For safety manager, Simphiwe Dyantyi, the train makes it possible to avoid the long queues that have since formed at vaccination centers.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Especially, we work in industries where you need to be at work like all the time. So, it was very crucial for me to get this vaccine.”

The vaccine train is an initiative by state logistics firm Transnet.

It’s currently parked at Springs station in South Africa’s biggest city Johannesburg.

But in the first week of September it departs for the rural Eastern Cape.

There it will be available to villagers who often don’t have access to basic health services.

Dr. Paballo Mokoena is the train’s manager.

“We are basically bringing the vaccines to the people. So, it cuts down on patients having to travel long distances, wait in long queues and sometimes even be turned back because vaccines are maybe finished, or they get to clinics or hospitals late.”

South Africa has been battered by three coronavirus waves.

Millions have been infected and more than 80,000 have died – by far the continent’s heaviest toll.

With just 14% of adults fully vaccinated, the government is now aiming for 300,000 inoculations per day.

The vaccine train, it’s hoped, will help keep that ambition on track.

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