On 26 July 2021, Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) from Eden Park and Palm Ridge (township near Thokoza on the Eastrand of Gauteng), were transported to a hostel opposite Naledi Mall in Voslooorus (a township also in the vicinity on the Eastrand), for a mass COVID-19 screening campaign. Contrary to many stereotypes about hostel residents, they were very welcoming of CHWs and the services they provided.
The residents also had lots of questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the questions were about whether or not they should vaccinate if they have underlying conditions/illnesses like diabetes, or hypertension etc. The CHWs spent hours educating families there, though some did not want to hear about the vaccine. Residents who were 35 years and older and agreed were registered on the spot. CHWs observed that people who were most sceptical about the COVID-19 vaccine were the ones who are younger than 35 years.
As usual, the CHWs split up during the screenings to cover more people; while some covered the hostel building, others went to the houses made of mud bricks behind the hostel. The passage between the hostel and houses is dangerous, and often used by drug addicts, so everyone hid their cellphones. CHWs did not enter inside the houses when consulting with residents and instead stood outside in groups of three or four for their safety as well.
Describing the conditions of the place, one CHW says the walls of the houses look like they can fall anytime and there is no running water. Also, most people were standing in groups not wearing masks or observing social distancing.
CHWs have since been informed by their Outreach Team Leaders that the mass screening campaigns will now be conducted next to vaccination sites as most community members are not aware of the vaccination sites in their areas.
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