More than half of South Africans — 61% — are keen to have a Covid-19 jab and the number of people saying yes to inoculation is gradually growing.
This is one finding of a survey by Ipsos and the World Economic Forum, conducted in 15 countries from 28 to 31 January.
The survey found that:
- More people are comfortable with get a Covid-19 jab since the previous survey in December;
- People’s main concerns are the fear of side-effects and the speed of clinical trials; and
- There is still uncertainty whether vaccines should be made mandatory.
Ipsos said, “Nine in 10 British adults who say they have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 agree that they would get a vaccine if it were available”.
Compared with the same survey conducted in December, an increase of 12% was noticeable, moving up from 77% to 89%.
South Africa shows the third-lowest level of vaccination intent, followed by France and then Russia. But, said Ipsos, “Vaccine intent in South Africa changed quite a bit since last August — and it would be safe to say that it will continue changing until such a time as there is more certainty about the rollout of a vaccine.”
Why are some South Africans against vaccinations?
Well, we had a bit of a rough start with the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plan when it changed overnight because of questions regarding the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Ipsos survey shows that “concern about the side-effects and clinical trials’ speed are the leading causes of vaccine hesitancy. Four in every 10 (39%) of those who are vaccine-hesitant are worried about the possible side-effects.”
But Dr Nisha Jacob, of the Centre for Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Research at the University of Cape Town, said that “having side-effects may also be an indication that the vaccine is working in the body”. She said that there may be side-effects to the Covid jab, as there are to all vaccines, but that these are usually mild and not dangerous.
Jacob added, “All vaccines undergo rigorous clinical trials for safety and efficacy. Only once results are critically peer-reviewed and published are they accepted.
“It would be more beneficial to ensure that the public is well-informed about vaccines. We desperately need to tackle vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories which are rife, particularly on social media.”
On whether vaccines should be mandatory, South Africa is divided, with 47% in favour of jabs being compulsory and 50% against.
Will making the vaccine mandatory help curb the spread of Covid-19?
Jacob said, “Vaccination is undoubtedly the best way to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases like Covid. Through vaccination, we can achieve herd or population immunity if enough of the population is vaccinated. Population immunity also protects those who are unable to take the vaccine.”