How the Mining Industry is Harnessing Technology to Vaccinate Against COVID-19 .

The mining sector is the beating heart of South Africa’s economy, contributing to 8.2% of the country’s national GDP. With almost 530 mines scattered across the country, employing over 450, 000 people, it is no wonder that the mining industry was concerned about the wellbeing of its people. So, it came as little surprise that the industry as a whole heeded the call to protect its miners and stepped up to help the government with its COVID-19 vaccination rollout plans.

With so many miners working in extremely close proximity, deep underground, the Corona Virus posed a real and deadly threat, not only to the lives of the miners, their families and those living near the mines but also to the productivity of the mines themselves. As the world’s largest platinum producer, 3rd largest coal producer, 6th largest gold producer and 7th largest diamond producer, the South African mining sector could ill afford to be hit with massive bouts of downtime as the result of a surge in onsite infections. Mine closures as the result of an outbreak of COVID-19 needed to be minimised as far as possible. So, the industry, led by the Minerals Council of South Africa, stepped up to protect its people, and its mines, by offering the government the much-needed assistance and infrastructure to successfully roll out tens of thousands of life-saving vaccinations to miners and residents of the local communities in which the mines operate.

Given the fact that many of the mining companies already had well established, successful health programs running and existing health infrastructure in place, including medical centres, medical stations, clinics, hospitals and the human resources necessary, it made sense for the mining industry to inoculate its own people and local communities as an extension of the national vaccine rollout implementation plan. So, the Minerals Council of South Africa, in conjunction with many of the large mining conglomerates began to work closely with the South African Health Department to get workplace vaccination programs set up.

With several clients in the mining sector, Wyzetalk had already put its innovative, mobile-first employee engagement solution on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic when it developed the ‘COVID-19 Hub’, a self-assessment and information dissemination solution. For their self-assessments, miners are required to answer a series of questions about their health before each shift and based on the information provided, they are either granted or denied access to sites. Miners are also provided with vital information about the virus and how to stay safe and healthy.

After the initial COVID-19 self-assessment solution was developed for the mines, Wyzetalk began working with its clients in the industry to lead the way in the vaccination rollout. And so, once again, Wyzetalk made a significant impact on the health and safety of mineworkers by harnessing its technology to facilitate the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out among its mining clients. In doing so, Wyzetalk has developed a feature of the platform that is dedicated to vaccination information. It has been used to provide vital information to sensitise the mining organisations and their employees by circulating as much information about the vaccine so that employees can make their own informed decisions about getting vaccinated. The material shared includes content dispelling myths and false news about the vaccine, infographics, posters and messaging designed to encourage buy-in to the vaccination process.

Using Wyzetalk’s forms functionality, mining companies have been able to survey their employees to get accurate, informed feedback about their understanding and acceptance of the vaccine. It also provides a platform for employees to ask questions and share their issues and concerns, privately, via the app. Content has been created by communications and health teams around the feedback to reassure employees and encourage them to sign up and get vaccinated. The Wyzetalk solution has used crowdsourcing to understand issues and formulate answers and responses to close the communication feedback loop.

The platform’s vaccine rollout solution enables mineworkers to register for their vaccinations to be administered at their workplace site via the app, mobi site or USSD. Using this information, the mining companies, assisted by the Minerals Council of South Africa, can then register on behalf of the miners on the national EVDS (Electronic Vaccination Data System), so that the miners themselves only register once, enhancing the employee experience around the vaccine by streamlining the process for the mineworkers.

Using the forms functionality, the mines have been able to send out surveys, the results of which have provided invaluable insights that have assisted in gauging how many employees need to be vaccinated so that the mines can plan their workplace vaccination programs, know how many vaccines to order, and how to phase their rollout programs.

The Wyzetalk platform enables mining companies to personalise and segment their messaging, making sure that the right message gets to the right person at the right time. Wyzetalk has been able to send messages with information that includes employee numbers, date, place and time of vaccine. This information is all protected, and highly confidential, and is only shared with individual employees.

It is understood and respected that the choice to vaccinate is a personal one, but for the mining organisations, the aim is to get as many of its willing workforce immunised as possible. Some of the mines are focusing on their own employees for the first phase and will open the process up to residents of the local communities once their employees have had their necessary shots, while other mines have already opened their clinics and hospitals up to the families of their employees and those living in the local vicinities.

Using the power of technology, and by collaborating with the private and public sector, Wyzetalk has partnered with its mining clients and produced a solution that not only assists large organisations to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations to tens of thousands of people but will save hundreds of thousands of lives.

By implementing a wide-scale vaccination program within the mines and local communities, these mining organisations can protect the lives of their employees and their loved ones and begin to get back to business as usual. The return to full-scale productivity and sustainability is something that is desperately needed for the mining communities and the South African economy.