A momentous initiative has taken place at the Sabi Sand nature reserve in Mpumalanga. Over a few days, Sabi Sand employees, their families, security personnel as well as rhino anti-poaching and conservation staff received their Covid-19 vaccinations. Vaccination stations were also set up at the nearby communities of Dixie and Dumphries.

Three companies joined forces to make this mass Covid-19 vaccine drive possible in a remote part of South Africa. Eurolab joined forces with Sabi Sand and Dis-Chem Pharmacies to plan and roll out the programme. Nothing but passion, hard work and collaboration made this vaccination drive possible. Well over 2 000 vaccines were administered, an effort which saw the Mpumalanga region’s overall vaccine numbers increase substantially.

Dis-Chem provided the vaccine infrastructure, set up the vaccination site and administered the vaccines. Eurolab supported the initiative, and through its subsidiary Oncolab, is also 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, said, “This vaccine drive aims to achieve reserve and community-wide immunity, attract visitors back to one of South Africa’s major eco-tourism destinations and retain jobs. Tourism in South Africa has been hard-hit by the Coronavirus pandemic, and Mpumalanga has not been spared.”

Lynne Du Toit, Eurolab CEO, said, “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. The Covid-19 testing station set up by our specialised testing facility, Oncolab, will make it easy and quick for guests and staff to take a test and get their results on the same day.”

Speaking from the Dixie village vaccination site, Ivan Saltzman, Dis-Chem Pharmacies CEO, said, “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 concluded by saying, “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.