The Minerals Council South Africa (MCSA) has urged employees over the age of 60 to register for phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out due to start on Monday 17 May 2021.

The Council has also appealed to all employees to assist their family members, neighbours and friends over the age of 60 to register to receive the vaccine. While there are only around 6 000 industry employees over the age of 60, almost everyone will live with or know someone older than 60. Getting vaccinated if you are over 60 is important given that people in this age group are especially vulnerable and are three times more likely to be hospitalised and 15 times more likely to die due to complications related to Covid-19 than people under the age of 40.

Dr Thuthula Balfour, Head: Health at the Minerals Council said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc the world over. Many people feel disempowered as their lives and livelihoods have been affected and, in some instances, forever changed.”

She added that the vaccine offers hope that the country can return to a better place. “But, we can only get there if our society achieves community immunity. As the mining industry, we have set our sights high. We have achieved a 90% TB screening rate in the past and we will do our best to vaccinate as many people for Covid-19 as possible to achieve similar rates. It is an ambitious target but would contribute significantly to better immunity in mining communities across the country.”

Historical moment

Martin Kingston, chairman of the B4SA steering committee said that the launch of phase 2 of the national vaccination programme is a historic moment as it marks a critical turning point in the 14-month fight against Covid-19. “We thank the healthcare workers who have toiled tirelessly to save lives over the past year. I also want to acknowledge the work of the public servants and private volunteers across the breadth of the country who have brought us to this point,” Kingston said.

Vaccinations will be administered free of charge to all citizens, with medical aids expected to cover the cost of around 7 million members and the state absorbing the balance. Many mining companies have indicated that they will support community vaccinations in line with national priorities.

“It’s up to us to be the difference we want to see in the world. While many people will be vaccinated, we must continue to be mindful and adhere to Covid-19 prevention measures such as keeping a safe social distance, wearing our masks and washing our hands regularly. As we decide to be vaccinated, it is important to bear in mind that our choices have the potential to affect the lives of others,” concluded Dr Balfour.

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