PRESS RELEASE: Launch of Vax Champs – building the team to overcome Covid-19 in South Africa
12 November 2021, Pretoria
The National Department of Health has today launched the Vax Champs campaign and has invited everyone living in South Africa to become an ambassador for vaccination against Covid-19. Vooma Vaccine Champions, commonly known as Vax Champs, encourage their friends, family and neighbours to vaccinate.
The only way South Africa will control the Covid-19 pandemic is by vaccinating at least 70% of the population. Already, over 21 million people living in South Africa have had at least one Covid-19 vaccination. It is estimated that we need to vaccinate at least 15 million more people by Christmas to save 20,000 lives.
Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla said, “We need everyone in the country to support the vaccination campaign. Only by working together can we reach the 70% of the population we need to be vaccinated to save lives. That’s why I welcome the Vax Champ initiative. The Department of Health invites everyone in the country to join and be a part of the national team that can overcome Covid-19”.
The coordinator of Vax Champs, Ms Pauline Maketa, said that, “Many people actually do want to get vaccinated but are concerned about getting vaccinated because of what they have heard either on social media or from others. Someone they already trust – like a family member, a faith leader, a work colleague, a neighbour, a traditional leader or someone from church – can explain the medical evidence and persuade them to do the right thing. After all billions of people around the world have vaccinated and we know for a fact that those who vaccinate are less likely to get Covid-19, and if they do get Covid-19 are less likely to need hospital care.”
Peter Benjamin, the team leader said, “In many countries around the world, similar programmes have been effective in encouraging millions to vaccinate. We need to use every tool we have to overcome Covid – through face-to-“masked”-face conversations in communities and on social media.”
Vax Champs are asked to do three things:
- Educate themselves about Covid & vaccines
- Promote vaccination to friends, family and neighbours (in social media and real life)
- Report issues and problems with vaccination in their area so it can be improved
The programme will be in all 11 South African languages with a team offering support and advice so that accurate and correct information is only shared.
People can join Vax Champs though WhatsApp, a website and Moya (data-free), and people without smart phones can join by calling the National Covid Hotline.
To become a Vax Champ
– Visit www.vaxchamp.org.za
– Use the NDOH Covid WhatsApp system 060 012 3456
– Call the National Covid Hotline 0800 029 999
Pauline Maketa, 071 981 4862, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Benjamin, 082 829 3353, email@example.com