26 May 2021
By Matikweni Khoza
The month of June is fast approaching, and like all previous years, we will once again, commemorate and pay homage to the youths of 1976. However, unlike the celebrations we have had in the previous years before the COVID19 Pandemic, we will reflect on the past year since the outbreak of the virus, and recall the many lives that have been lost. This however does not have to be the only object for South Africans to reflect on. Since the beginning of the phase 1 Sisonke vaccination roll-out in February, more healthcare workers have become open to the procedure of getting vaccinated. They are after all the front-liners who have been laboring tirelessly to save lives during this devastating pandemic. With the current death rate standing at more than 55 000 and the arrival of the much feared third wave, the health department is racing against time to vaccinate as many people as possible.
Off course, avoiding crowded places, wearing masks and observing physical distancing should still be practiced. But what better way, than to kick start Youth Month, by getting young people involved in the fight against COVID19? Now that phase 2 of the vaccination trial has begun with those from the ages of 60, young people have the opportunity to play their part in helping and encouraging the elderly in their families and communities to register for vaccination. There are several ways to assist the elderly in getting vaccinated, which can be done online through the vaccination portal on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS), through the WhatsApp line, via SMS or by calling the COVID hotline.
Being a part of the younger generation, we sometimes forget that the elderly does not always have the technological tools, or an understanding of how to apply for vaccinations. We sometimes do not consider that vaccine hesitation amongst the elderly population stems from a lack of accurate information and the spreading of fake news. This however gives us the opportunity to actively play our role in helping, enlightening, educating and encouraging those in the specified age group to get vaccinated. Mobilizing the youth in rural, suburban and sprawling cities to inform the public about COVID 19, will help reinforce governments’ efforts in fighting the spread of the virus and preventing further decline of the local economy.
As youth, we sometimes forget that the little that we do to help our loved ones and others in the communities around us, has the immeasurable power to change the world for the better. This especially includes protecting the most vulnerable men and women that form part of our population.
If we as young people want to make an impact, this is our opportunity. The motive behind our little assistance might go unnoticed, but it will have the potential to go a long way in adding to the desired achievement of herd immunity in the country. Rather than using the month of June to only celebrate and remember those youths who struggled for equality, why don’t we make use of Youth month and the reminder of the year, to help, reassure and protect the senior citizens and the rest of the country at large?
Matikweni Khoza was an intern at the GCIS