'This is the best way of being safe': Pretoria man, 72, lines up for Covid-19 vaccine

17 May 2021 - 10:12 By graeme hosken
Solomon Laka, 72, sits in a queue at the FF Ribeiro Clinic, waiting to be vaccinated.
Solomon Laka, 72, sits in a queue at the FF Ribeiro Clinic, waiting to be vaccinated.
Image: Graeme Hosken/TimesLIVE

It was all systems go at Pretoria’s FF Ribeiro Clinic, where scores of the city’s elderly and health workers queued for their Covid-19 vaccine on Monday.

Solomon Laka, 72, who lives in an inner city shelter for the elderly, said they had been told to get to the clinic early.

“I am excited. I got here early. I am ready. I only knew about the vaccines last week and that we could come to this clinic today. I don't have a cellphone so I could not register my name, but I have been told I will be helped,” he said.

Smiling as nurses took his details at the registration point, Laka said the disease was dangerous.

“There are so many things out there that affect the elderly and the homeless. Now there is this gogga [bug]. We must be safe and this is the best way of being safe. I am hoping that with my vaccine I will be protected.

“I don't have medical aid so I am grateful the government is helping us to fight this.”

With music blaring and curious onlookers and shoppers gathering, dozens of elderly people made their way up a flight of stairs to the clinic for their jabs. The site — erected within the City of Tshwane’s municipal building away from the bustling clinic offices — is a hive of activity.

“These people are lucky. I wish I was in the queue with them,” said shopper Magda Ngobozi.

“I will just have to wait until it is my turn,” the 56-year-old mother of three said.

She said she is scared that she will become infected with Covid-19 before she has a chance to be vaccinated.

“This thing is very scary. It is not nice that it has taken so long to bring vaccines to SA. I hope they get the elderly vaccinated quickly so we can get our turn.”

Agreeing, Johanna Mbali said she is worried for her sister who has diabetes.

“I heard the sick are next but no-one can tell me when they will get vaccinated. There is so much we don't know.”

Physical distancing and seating for the elderly were provided on day one of the vaccine rollout at this Pretoria clinic.
Physical distancing and seating for the elderly were provided on day one of the vaccine rollout at this Pretoria clinic.
Image: Graeme Hosken/TimesLIVE

Mildred Dibotshwa, 67, said she was exited to be in the queue. “My big worry is for my family. I want to be well so I can carry on supporting them.”

Healthcare worker Fikile Mashaba said she had registered her mother and herself at the clinic.

“Registration is easy. My mother is in her 80s. I didn't just want to bring her here on the first day. I am testing the system for my family. Now that I see how quickly things are going, I will go home and bring her a bit later.”

She said she was excited to be vaccinated.

“There have been many problems in getting the vaccine and fighting the disease. Now things seem to be finally working.”

Earlier, TimesLIVE observed nurses quickly assisting people waiting for their vaccines. Queues of 30 people were processed and their details checked off a register with people shepherded into waiting booths within the clinic.

A nurse, asking not to be named, said it had been smooth sailing so far: “We are expecting the crowds to come later. I don't think many people know that they can come to be vaccinated here. Our list is quite short.”

“I am so excited. I have been waiting for this for a while and now it has happened. Praise the lord.”

These were the excited words of KwaZulu-Natal resident Jennifer Saunders who was vaccinated in Eersterus, Pretoria, on Monday.

Nurse Lynn-Rae Hartell at Eersterus Community Health Centre gives Jennifer Saunders her jab.
Nurse Lynn-Rae Hartell at Eersterus Community Health Centre gives Jennifer Saunders her jab.
Image: Graeme Hosken/TimesLIVE

Saunders was in Eersterus for her granddaughter's wedding when she was inoculated. She was also the first person in Eersterus to be vaccinated under phase 2 of the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

She was relieved the process was over. “The hype made me nervous,” she said.

“Being diabetic, my children wanted me to get vaccinated. They were scared I could die. The first jab is done. I will get the next one in June when I go home.”

She said the entire process was pain-free.

“It's all in God’s hands now.”

TimesLIVE


subscribe