Diversified miner Exxaro Resources has launched a Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme at its Matla coal mine, in Mpumalanga.
The launch of the rollout programme is part of a national campaign under the auspices of the Department of Health in partnership with the Mpumalanga Department of Health and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
Exxaro group health and safety manager Dr Joseph Matjila tells Mining Weekly that combatting the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on South Africa is not limited only to the mine's boundaries and, while its interventions are primarily focused on its mine employees, members of host communities can also use the facilities to be vaccinated.
"Our main motivation is to save lives. Preventing infection is part of our core health and safety strategy, but vaccination helps to reduce the risk of people who become infected developing severe symptoms and requiring hospitalisation.
"In countries that have seen large uptake of vaccination drives, there are fewer deaths and vaccines are effective in preventing severe cases of the disease," he says.
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane, Mpumalanga Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu and Mpumalanga Department of Health head Dr Savera Mohangi attended the launch of the programme at the Matla mine on July 27.
Exxaro rolled out a similar initiative at its Grootegeluk coal mine, in Limpopo, during the week of July 19 to 25, where members of the host Marapong community will also be able to receive their vaccinations in line with national determinations of the age cohort, says Matjila.
"With this initiative in Matla and in Marapong, we are well positioned to help with the vaccination drive. We are not only rolling this out in our organisation, but we are also actively supporting our host communities through the partnership with the national and provincial health departments," he says.
More than 1 000 people were vaccinated on the day of the launch at Grootegeluk when Exxaro hosted Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba.