COVID-19's most vulnerable communities identified using this tool

COVID-19's most vulnerable communities identified using this tool

The COVID-19 Vulnerability Index gives more weight to the necessary indicators helping in identifying communities that should be prioritised during the vaccination rollout.

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The Department of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) introduced the South African Covid-19 Vulnerability Index (Vindex) in December 2020. This resource was developed to help aid the necessary people aware of vulnerable regions in the country that are most likely to be highly affected by the COVID-19 should it go wild in the province. 

When they launched in last year, the Vindex was developed as a way of using the smallest population data available incorporating Census 2011 data and eight indicators related to labour force activity, access to media, household services, overcrowding, multigenerational status, age and chronic illness to help create an indicator to reflect the vulnerability status of citizens to the Covid-19 virus and where these individuals are located.

READ MORE: 17 493 new Covid-19 cases recorded in South Africa

Well, this is a great tool considering the most statistics most people are only ever aware of is the number on television s and radios which is quite vague as they speak in provinces. A clearer depiction of how your specific site is doing would make you more alert with things as little as saying you are "quickly going to Spar to get some bread" and many more 'small' tasks that get us out the house.

On June 21 2021, Stats SA shared an updated version of this COVID-19 Vulnerability Index. The updated version prioritizes to the indicators related to age, overcrowding, use of chronic mediation and multigenerational households to make it more relevant in identifying communities that should be prioritised during the vaccination rollout. 

via GIPHY

Yes! We totally love this. Those that dread having to go stand in line for vaccination or just never quite make it past registration because they don't have kids or grandchildren nearby to help with the admin, will be able to have much more attention on their areas as a result of the healthcare system prioritizing the region/population from the Vindex results. 

The use of census 2011 data allows for the index to be mapped to the smallest possible area, known as an enumeration area (EA), which is the smallest geographical area into which the country is divided for census purposes and contains between 100 to 250 households.

Nine provincial dashboards were developed, and the index can be queried at a placename and municipality level.

Stats SA said the updated dashboard could potentially be used to:

  • Locate vulnerable communities.
  • Define priority groups and the best methods of communicating to help define a tailored outreach and communication plan.
  • Assist to plan the location of dispensing sites, especially for the mobile units, and to monitor uptake.


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"Stats SA is hopeful that the use of this tool will assist the country in prioritising the most vulnerable communities and ensuring that there is adequate access to the vaccine for all," Stats SA states. 

According to Stats SA’s Demographic and Population Statistics chief director, Diego Iturralde, this Index could aid public health decision-makers to focus on areas where vulnerability is driven by overcrowding, multi-generational households, elderly and exposure to chronic conditions.

We hope to see a reflection of this thoughtful index being put to action in these communities that need vaccination as intensely but just cannot access it. Three times for Stats SA! Truly impressive work.

The dashboard can be accessed here.

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