Since the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines expanded to people older than 60 in South Africa, there have been complaints from government officials and the public about “queue-jumpers” — people who get vaccinated even though they do not qualify.
Observers have noted that people who are clearly not healthcare workers and younger than 60 are queuing to receive vaccines, many of them with official appointments from the Department of Health’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
An industry source recently spoke to MyBroadband on condition of anonymity after they found they were able to register on the EVDS and received an appointment.
Armed with the SMS confirming their appointment, the source queued for and received their vaccine on Monday.
While our source does have comorbidities, they are neither a healthcare worker nor over 60 years old.
The source explained that they visited vaccination.health.gov.za and were not prompted for their age.
They were asked whether they are a healthcare worker, and if they work in another patient-facing job. They replied “no” in both instances and filled in the rest of the application.
They registered for the vaccine on Friday, and on Sunday morning they received an SMS informing them that their appointment was scheduled for that Monday in the vaccination centre at 1 Discovery Place.
The experience of this individual casts doubt on the narrative that all alleged queue-jumpers lied on their EVDS application to get an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine.
Nicolas Crisp, the medical doctor who heads up the EVDS, recently told Daily Maverick that people were giving false information on the web portal as healthcare workers to register to receive the vaccine.
He said that the issue was discovered over the weekend of 22–23 May and the EVDS portal for healthcare workers was shut down to block people from exploiting the loophole.
Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja provided similar information to News24, stating that they discovered over the weekend that the EVDS web portal for healthcare workers was being used by ineligible people to register for the vaccine.
While it is accurate that people who were not eligible for the vaccine were able to register, what has not been mentioned is that the EVDS did not appear to properly filter out people who disclosed that they were not healthcare workers.
In other words, not all queue-jumpers lied to get their appointment.
The Department of Health also went on to blame queue-jumpers for causing it to miss its target of vaccinating all healthcare workers by the end of last week.
This conclusion by the Department, and its insinuation that queue-jumpers used up vaccines intended for healthcare workers, is not borne out by the facts at hand.
Crisp stated that some healthcare workers had not registered for the vaccine.
Since the EVDS portal for healthcare workers was only shut down over the weekend, the Department of Health didn’t miss its target because of queue-jumpers — it missed the target because not all healthcare workers registered to receive their vaccine by the end of last week.
MyBroadband contacted the Department of Health for comment, but it did not respond by the time of publication.