A momentous initiative is taking place at the Sabi Sand Game Reserve (GR) in Mpumalanga. Sabi Sand employees, their families, security personnel as well as rhino anti-poaching and conservation staff are receiving their Covid-19 vaccinations. It is an unprecedented initiative in that three companies have joined forces to make it possible in a remote part of South Africa: Sabi Sand, Dis-Chem Pharmacies and oncology company, Eurolab.
Vaccination stations have also been set up at the nearby communities of Dixie and Dumphries. Nothing but passion, hard work and collaboration has made this vaccination drive possible.
Dis-Chem has provided the vaccine infrastructure, set up the vaccination site and is administering the vaccines.
Oncology company, Eurolab, is also supporting the initiative, and via its subsidiary Oncolab, is establishing a Covid-19 testing station with same-day results for the Sabi Sand staff and guests.
The closest testing facility is over two hours’ drive away.
Oscar Mthimkhulu, CEO of the Sabi Sand, says, “This vaccine drive aims to achieve reserve and community-wide immunity, attract visitors back to one of South Africa’s major ecotourism destinations and retain jobs. Tourism in South Africa has been hard-hit by the Coronavirus pandemic, and Mpumalanga has not been spared.”
Gabe Simaan, Eurolab chairman, says, “We are pleased to support this drive to bring South African and international guests back to the Sabi Sand. We are supporting Sabi Sand with Covid-19 testing to make it easy and quick for guests and staff to take a test and get their results on the same day. The more jabs we can get into arms, the quicker South Africa can return to a sense of normality across all sectors, and especially health, eco-tourism and conservation.”
Ivan Saltzman, Dis-Chem Pharmacies CEO, says, “We are pleased that we were able to lend our expertise in setting up this mass vaccine site at the Sabi Sand and hope that this effort will boost tourism in the area. It also demonstrates our commitment to expanding vaccine access. Dis-Chem Pharmacies is directly involved in the national vaccine rollout and has established numerous vaccine sites across the country. We can set up vaccine sites where they are needed.”
Mthimkhulu adds, “We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our guests and employees. The United States-approved Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are being administered, which is an important consideration especially for tourists from the United States.”
Covid-19 remains a threat to people who are unvaccinated. Some people who get COVID-19 can become severely ill, which could result in hospitalization, and some people have ongoing health problems several weeks or even longer after getting infected.