During 2020 and 2021, SAVIC members continued to provide technical support to the NDoH through participation in National Advisory Group on Immunisation and National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee activities, and EPI task group and WHO EPI meetings. SAVIC members regularly participate in vaccinology courses and meetings, both as lecturers and as participants, which allows the team to remain at the cutting edge of new developments in vaccinology.
During 2020 and early 2021 SAVIC members participated in too many online vaccinology webinars to mention, but of note is that they participated as students in the 2020 webinar series on adult education organised by the Global Collaboration on Advanced Vaccinology Training in collaboration with the University of Toronto. SAVIC members continued to advocate for vaccination in 2020 and early 2021, through publishing articles in non-scientific professional journals and lay magazines, and in interviews with national newspapers, radio stations and television channels.
Unfortunately, SAVIC’s annual vaccination catch-up campaigns planned for 2020, conducted by the MPharm students from the Public Health Pharmacy and Management Division of the School of Pharmacy at SMU, under the leadership of Prof Hannelie Meyer and Mr Jackson Mahlaba, had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in place of these campaigns, vaccination advocacy was conducted as part of a community outreach campaign targeting taxi-drivers and commuters in Ga-Rankuwa, during November 2020. Hand sanitiser, manufactured by the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division in the School of Pharmacy at SMU, were distributed to the taxi-drivers, accompanied by educational materials (stickers for the taxis and flyers for the commuters) on vaccination, managing chronic conditions and staying safe during COVID-19. The purpose of including vaccination advocacy in this campaign was to address the low vaccination coverage experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocacy messages highlighted the importance of vaccination, and reminded caregivers to continue or catch-up with their children’s scheduled immunisations.