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Innova CEO takes COVID-19 vaccinations to his home province

Innova CEO takes COVID-19 vaccinations to his home province

Bandile Mathandela, CEO of Aurum Innova says there is a sense of pride in bringing lifesaving COVID-19 vaccinations to the people of the Eastern Cape, not only because it is his home province, but also as there is such a great need for vaccinations in that province.

“Growing up in the Eastern Cape has contributed to the person that I am. Being able to lead this project and take COVID-19 vaccines to the people of the province is really special for me.” Mathandela said it was meaningful for him to be vaccinated in Butterworth at one of the Innova sites. He also visited the site in Matatiele, his hometown. “There are a lot of places, particularly rural areas, where access to healthcare is a challenge. It gives me great pride that we are taking vaccinations to where they are needed the most,” he said.

10 000 vaccinations

Innova is running seven sites in the province. This is part of a multi-province vaccination project being implemented by the Aurum Group which includes The Aurum Institute, Innova, CHAPS and YHA. Made possible by the Solidarity Fund, the project has reached the milestone of 10 000 people vaccinated in less than a month since it was launched.

“As the Aurum Group, specifically Innova , we aim to operate in areas where we can make the most impact. We are seeing the meaningful impact in the Eastern Cape,” said Mathandela.

The vaccination sites are set up at retail stores, for easy access for the public. “The idea is to make vaccination convenient and available where people are. That is how the retail model came about. Massmart and the Spar Group have really come to the party. They have made space available for us to erect vaccination sites and some have also provided us with furniture, he added” Mathandela noted that collaboration has been key to the success of the project. The provincial and district health departments have been vital partners, integrating their efforts to form a “formidable team” which is working together to rollout vaccinations in the province. “They have ensured that we have timely access to vaccinations and the necessary support on the ground. These partnerships are critical. Each party brings an important element towards achieving the overall objective to contribute to the national vaccination rollout for the country to reach herd immunity. This is the stance taken by government as the best way to combat COVID-19,” he said.

Meet people where they are

To attract as many people as possible, most of the retailers selected are near taxi ranks. “We want to meet people where they are. We accept walk-ins and register people on site. The reception has been good, and what gives people confidence is that the sites are run by fully qualified medical personnel. These include nurses, pharmacists and administrators, many of whom are employed from the areas the sites are in. The same protocols which would apply in a healthcare facility, apply at our sites,” said Mathandela.

Commitment

He praised the teams for their commitment, not only to vaccinating people but also to addressing vaccine hesitancy. “Our staff are quite knowledgeable about COVID-19 as well as the vaccination. We put an effort into working with the sub-district to raise awareness and educating people on the vaccine, the benefits and efficacy.” Rather than disregarding vaccine hesitancy, Mathandela said they use the opportunity to engage and educate members of the public who have opposing views about the vaccine. “There has been good up take of the vaccine across eligible ages. We are vaccinating an average of 600 to 650 people across our sites per day. We are monitoring the demand and looking for other suitable sites to contribute to the growing number of vaccinations administered in the Eastern Cape,” said Mathandela

Innova has also worked with Harmony Gold to support vaccination of mine workers and their families in Welkom.

Aurum Innova sites open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 3pm

Butterworth: Spar

Mdantsane: Rhino Cash & Carry

King Williams Town: Rhino Cash & Carry

Matatiele: Boxer

Cacadu (formerly Lady Frere): SuperSpar

KwaBhaca (formerly Mount Frere): Rhino Cash & Carry

Weekend drive-through site at basement parking at Hemingways Mall in East London from 9am to 5pm