The team at the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) has been spending hours trying to stop South Africans younger than 60 — who keep finding loopholes that allow them to be registered and get the COVID-19 vaccine — from gaming the system.
Estelle Ellis and Christi Nortier write on Daily Maverick:
The man in charge of the government’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS), Dr Nicolas Crisp says that it is important to stress that the government’s EVDS system has not failed. “People are rooting for government to fail on this and we are not.”
He said they discovered over the weekend that people were using the EVDS site for healthcare workers and providing false information. “This allowed people younger than 60 to register. It was meant to provide a place for non-medical staff like receptionists and cleaners to register, but we had to shut it down because many used it as a way to get around the limit that you had to be over 60 to register on the general site,” he said.
Instead, Crisp said they had to open a separate portal for healthcare professional staff where credentials would be verified. “Because, believe it or not, some healthcare professionals still haven’t registered.”
He said the EVDS system does not only register people for vaccination, but also allows for the scheduling of vaccines.
“We had some problems, particularly with the private vaccination sites where walk-ins were allowed. So because we know that there will be some no-shows, we have allowed those who manage the site to allow a certain number of walk-ins to make up for this.”
Crisp said that he is often asked what would happen if you miss an appointment. “The system will reschedule your appointment twice and after the third time that you missed it, you can phone and they will schedule you again. But we will give you three opportunities to get the vaccination before this point.
“If you have registered, your turn will definitely come up. You are in our records and as soon as an appointment slot at a vaccination site in your area is available, you will receive an SMS.
“How soon you will receive an SMS for a new appointment depends on how many vaccination centres there are in your area. As more vaccination sites are being opened every week, more appointment slots will become available,” Crisp said.
“The EVDS applies the same rules to everyone in both the private and the public sectors. Appointments depend on the number of vaccination sites in your area. It also depends on the time slot you have chosen.
“Some medical schemes will also ask you to register on their system so that they can send you information about vaccinations. You will, however, still need to register on the EVDS. It is the only way to book an appointment.
“Your medical aid has to follow the rules of the national vaccine rollout as set out by the Department of Health. Medical aids are only allowed to vaccinate a certain age group as announced by the Department of Health.
“The EVDS will ask you if you have a medical aid. If you do, you will need to enter the name of the scheme and also your medical aid number. The system will try to send medical aid members to private sites (if there is one in their area) but they may be invited to a public site,” he said.
Crisp said if a person had a change of address since first registering, they can go back to the EVDS system and enter the new information. There will not be a duplicate record as long as you use the same ID number.
“We appeal to people not to just walk in. Walking into a vaccination site does not mean that you will be vaccinated immediately. Vaccination sites can assist to register persons 60 years and older on the EVDS. Registering online in advance and being allocated an appointment slot is the best way to ensure you receive your vaccine.”
He said the health department was working on a system that will allow people without identity documents to get vaccinated. Details of this system will be announced in due course.
Crisp said there are five provinces that are scheduling their own appointments.
Eastern Cape Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said “we are allowing walk-ins. We are registering them and they get the vaccine. We don’t turn people away. If you are over 60 you can go to your nearest vaccination site to get the jab. Especially those who are 80 must do so.”
Mondli Mvambi from the Free State Health said they do allow walk-ins, but encourage people to register first.
“We allow walk-ins because most of them are uncertain about the vaccine and they have heard many stories before. When they come, we allow them to get it. It is their right. Our aim is to ensure that the willing elderly are vaccinated and that we leave no one behind. We are looking into helping those who are bed-ridden at home and our outreach structures are making arrangements for them to be vaccinated.”
Gauteng Health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said walk-ins were discouraged. “We are encouraging people to go to the vaccination sites with an appointment so that we avoid overcrowding,” she said, but added that they would not turn walk-ins away.