Vaccine scientists have cautioned if too few people get vaccinated against Covid-19, the virus would not be controlled. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Vaccine scientists have cautioned if too few people get vaccinated against Covid-19, the virus would not be controlled. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

67% of SA adults want the Covid-19 vaccine, study finds

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jan 27, 2021

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Cape Town - Vaccine scientists have cautioned if too few people get vaccinated against Covid-19, the virus would not be controlled.

Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, the deputy director of the UCT's Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, an infectious diseases specialist, said numbers wouldn’t go down because “we will still have sufficient transmission going on to keep the epidemic going”.

This after a new study from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Centre for Social Change in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) showed two out of three adults would take the Covid-19 vaccine.

The two research divisions released the findings on Monday after undertaking an online study with over 10 000 participants between December 29 and January 6.

The key findings of the study showed 67% of adults would definitely or probably take the vaccine, 18% would definitely or probably refuse and 15% did not know.

Professor Kate Alexander from UJ said it was excellent news that such a large and representative survey showed 67% wanted to take the vaccine. However, she said the biggest challenge was to make sure the majority received it.

Bekker said individuals who got the vaccine might not be completely protected because not all vaccines were 100% effective, but it would decrease their chances of getting very sick or dying.

“If enough people get vaccinated, we get this other, very important additional value, which is known as herd immunity. All that means is that enough people are protected that the amount of virus actually circulating drops very low.

"We all benefit, even if we have not been able to get vaccinated. That can only happen when sufficient numbers of people in the population have been vaccinated.”

HSRC’s Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller said: “We need a vaccine literacy campaign that provides factual information that will sway the waverers.”

UCT’s director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Professor Valerie Mizrahi, said if South Africa failed to reach at least two thirds of its population, “it will just take us that much longer to reach herd immunity. Until we get herd immunity, we need to understand that waves will continue to affect South Africa. This is not what we want. Vaccines offer a critical way to deal with the pandemic and its social and economic ills”.

She said until the pandemic was brought down, dealing with the economic challenges would continue to be difficult.

Health standing committee chairperson in the Western Cape legislature, Wendy Philander, said the national government has dragged its feet in providing clarity on the Covid-19 vaccination process.

She said at this critical point in global history, the government could not spare any effort to assure residents of the safety of the vaccine.

“It is the only treatment that will lead us out of further devastating waves of Covid-19, and so it must be communicated as such across all communities.”

Cape Argus

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