Apathy and hesitancy lead to lack of demand for jabs


“COVID vaccinations almost halved in the last week of November compared with the same period the month before, and more than half of adults in SA - about 57%, or 22.8-m - are still not immunised, reported Sunday Times (5 December 2021). According to Wits University vaccinology professor

Shabir Madhi a combination of apathy and hesitancy contributed to the lack of demand.

Madhi said the hesitancy is fuelled by mixed messaging from government and earlier by its advisers, casting doubts about how vaccines would protect against even severe disease due to Beta.

This is compounded by misinformation that has run rampant. Department of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale said there are enough vaccines, human resource and vaccination sites. He blamed fake news and misinformation for the slow rate.

Professor Francois Venter from the Wits faculty of health sciences said mandates would boost vaccination but they would push up numbers only where they were applied, such as workplaces or restaurants.

Meanwhile, Business Day (6 December 2021) reported that almost two-thirds of healthcare workers in one of the world’s biggest Covid-19 vaccine trials (Sisonke) have not yet taken booster shots, “and they only have 10 working days to do so,”. By 4 December, participants who have taken a booster shot accounted for only 37% of the Sisonke trial group.

“It is expected the second phase of the trial will offer “critical data” on the interaction between Omicron and those with and without a J&J booster shot. This research would inform the government’s stance on booster shots. “

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