Doreen Bourhill's family are looking forward to the day she is vaccinated against COVID-19. At the age of 100, Doreen still lives her life to the full, spending her time knitting and enjoying time with her family - including 12 great-grandchildren who love her dearly.
"From the start of the pandemic, it's been obvious to the family that mom should be vaccinated as soon as possible. For us, the sooner, the better," says Gill Land, Doreen's daughter.
"Unfortunately, the disease caused the death of six people at the care home where mom lives. Mom occupies room 10, and the people in both rooms nine and 11 died after contracting COVID-19 during the second wave of infection late last year. In total, six people in the facility died from COVID-19, among them an outwardly healthy nurse who passed away only three days after falling ill."
"Mom was confined to her bedroom for weeks on end at the time because it seemed simply too dangerous to walk down the passage. Several residents fell ill with COVID-19 but fortunately recovered. This was all warning enough for us that mom should register for her vaccine as soon as possible once the national vaccine rollout began."
"Mom cannot talk on phone as she is profoundly hearing impaired"
"My mother is old school. She is really strong, both physically and mentally, and doesn't believe in complaining," says Gill. "She doesn't cry about misfortunes. She gets on with life. However, when she found out about the deaths of residents in the home who lived near her room, she became extremely anxious. Worse still for us was that we were not able to visit her and help her to cope."
Doreen has been profoundly hearing impaired since contracting mumps at the age of 18. "Mom lip reads and speaks very well," says Gill. "However, she cannot talk on phone as she cannot hear. This meant that when the care home put in strict measures to keep the residents safe, we couldn't speak to her for weeks. We could only communicate via messages to her mobile phone, which really was very hard for us all."
"She may be 100, but mom is used to being able to live her life to the full"
"It's such a relief that her vaccination is imminent. What a relief it will be for her to have some level of protection against COVID-19 disease. Mom has spent over a year under strict lockdown, unable to go out to lunch or even go on her long walks around the care home grounds."
"She may be 100 years old, but mom is used to being able to live her life to the full, spending her time knitting and enjoying time with her family - including 12 great-grandchildren who love her dearly."
Registering for COVID-19 vaccines on the national Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) and Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal
As soon as registrations opened for Phase 2 of the national rollout (which starts on 17 May 2021), the care facility where Doreen lives successfully registered her on the national Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS), which is compulsory for anyone who wants to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
"When our Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, announced that everyone over the age of 60 could register for their COVID-19 vaccine, we jumped at the chance to get my mom to the front of the queue, which by virtue of her age, she should be positioned at."
Then, Gill also registered herself, her 75-year-old husband and her mom Doreen on the Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal, which they all have access to as they are Discovery Health Medical Scheme members.
- This portal is open to members of medical schemes administered by Discovery Health and to all Discovery clients. It provides a host of relevant support from start to end of one's vaccine journey. More details below!
"Signing us all up to the Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal was easy, with no hassles," says Gill. "I check the portal frequently for updates. I have every faith in Discovery's mass COVID-19 vaccination programme and in our national vaccine rollout as our country has well-run vaccination processes in place as a norm."
"Our COVID-19 vaccines will be life-changing"
Gill is 68 year old, so she also qualifies for COVID-19 vaccination in Phase 2. She also qualifies because she lives with a chronic autoimmune illness known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, commonly known as "lupus"), putting her at heightened risk of serious COVID-19 illness if she ever contracts the virus.
"Our COVID-19 vaccines will be life-changing," she says. "That's because COVID-19 is life endangering. We've all experienced fear in varying degrees because of this pandemic and really felt anxious about doing ordinary, everyday things. We look forward to putting that all behind us when we reach population immunity."
"My brother lives in Zimbabwe and has already had his COVID-19 vaccine. He's had no side effects following his vaccine."
The elderly need help in registering for and accessing their COVID-19 vaccine
"My mom and husband would not have managed either the EVDS or Discovery Vaccination Portal registration without help, as they are simply not digitally savvy," says Gill. "We all need to reach out to older loved ones and ask them if they need help to secure their registration and then also get involved in helping them to diarise the event, to get to a vaccination site, or to coordinate any other logistics required for them to be vaccinated. Doing this means playing our part in keeping them safe and protecting others in our communities. Our increased immunity to COVID-19 means less risk of contracting and passing the virus on, which is so important. This is also how we will reach population immunity."
Here's how you can register for your COVID-19 vaccination and access the national and Discovery portals
If you're a Discovery client, all you need to do to ensure that you can get your COVID-19 vaccine is to register on Discovery's COVID-19 Vaccination Portal. By registering on Discovery's COVID-19 Vaccination Portal you will automatically be registered on the national Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) to make the process easier for you.
Once you're registered we will support you with all the information you need at every step of your vaccination journey.
Discovery clients will get a personalised invitation to register on this portal for added benefits tailored to their COVID-19 vaccination journey. This includes a host of support, such as:
- A view of where you fit in to the national prioritisation framework.
- Access to information on what to expect when being vaccinated and how to prepare for this.
- Information on accredited vaccination sites where vaccinations will be done nationwide (including pharmacies, GP practices and hospitals, and dedicated vaccination sites), and the location of Discovery's dedicated vaccination sites.
- A chance to take part in our survey and share symptoms after you have been vaccinated. Symptoms may be mild, moderate or serious. You will then be guided towards help or to your healthcare provider, as needed.
- Access to create a digital version of your vaccination card for safe keeping.
Find out all you need to know about registering on the Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal today.
Where do you fit into the country's national vaccine rollout?
COVID-19 vaccines are available in phases, according to a national prioritisation framework (not on a first come, first served basis). This phased approach makes sure that people most at risk are vaccinated first.
- In Phase 2 (likely to start in the third or fourth week of May 2021), vaccination efforts will focus on people over 60 and those living with illnesses. In this phase, people over 80 will be vaccinated first, then those who are younger (but still over 60), then people below 60 who have underlying medical conditions.
- Phase 3 vaccination efforts will likely start in October 2021. They will focus on the rest of the population - people under 60 with no underlying medical conditions.
Is your COVID-19 vaccination paid for?
If you are a member of a medical scheme
The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has stated that funding for the COVID-19 vaccine is a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB). This means all medical schemes must, by law, fund the COVID 19 vaccine as a Prescribed Minimum Benefit for every member of the scheme, in line with South Africa's vaccine prioritisation guidelines.
The cost of a COVID-19 vaccination will be covered in full for members of a medical scheme administered by Discovery Health. Members of other medical schemes will be covered through each scheme's risk pool of funds.
- Read our detailed COVID-19 vaccine frequently asked questions (FAQ) for Discovery Health Medical Scheme members for more insights (scroll down to the section Need more information?).
If you are not a member of a medical scheme
People who are not members of a medical scheme will receive the vaccine through government funded structures.
- Look out for your invitation to register on the Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal. We will send these over the next few weeks in line with the national phased vaccination approach.
- Visit the Discovery COVID-19 Vaccination Portal or access our WhatsApp service to get instant answers to any questions you may have.