SA’s vaccine troubles include a shortage of megaphones – but soccer is helping

Business Insider SA
(Photo by Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

  • South Africa's vaccine rate is terrible.
  • Part of the problem is a lack of tools, including megaphones, districts say. Bad roads and bad weather also don't help.
  • But tying vaccination to soccer is proving powerful.
  • For more stories go to

If it weren't for bad roads, bad weather, and a lack of simple tools, more South Africans would be vaccinated, those with regional responsibility for the rollout of Covid-19 shots say.

The OR Tambo region of the Eastern Cape is complaining about a lack of megaphones and transport, a weekly department of health report on the vaccine rollout shows.

Bad weather was cited in that district, as well as in parts of North West and the Western Cape, where the Garden Route area said it couldn't keep warm when they come to promotional events designed to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

The Northern Cape needs materials that explain booster shots in Afrikaans. In both KwaZulu-Natal and the North West, the inability to get a vaccine outside of working hours appears to be holding back rollout.

The combination of such challenges – and what government experts describe as widespread apathy – is clear in national statistics. On Tuesday, South Africa recorded just over 22,000 new vaccine booster doses delivered on the day, and just about 20,000 people received their first doses on the day, as both winter and a fifth wave of infections draw nearer.

That slow rate of vaccination means not much over 45% of the adult population is considered fully vaccinated, as opposed to the 67% target for herd immunity that President Cyril Ramaphosa set well over a year ago.

Various regions did agree on one thing that is driving vaccination: soccer.

Tshwane linked the Mamelodi Sundowns team with vaccination, and eThekwini said vaccine clinics at football matches were working. Others are trying to involve sports teams or organisations, and have suggested making vaccination mandatory for those wishing to take part in games at local-club level.

That, they think, may hit home for young men, among whom more than two-thirds remain resolutely unvaccinated.

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