University of the Western Cape Division for Postgraduate Studies acting director Professor Mario Smith said that a major threat to the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out campaign is people thinking they are immune to the virus. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)
University of the Western Cape Division for Postgraduate Studies acting director Professor Mario Smith said that a major threat to the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out campaign is people thinking they are immune to the virus. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

'Vaccination hesitancy fuelling Covid-19 infections and stymies vaccine roll-out'

By Shakirah Thebus, Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Aug 13, 2021

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Cape Town - A major threat to the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out campaign is people thinking they are immune to the virus, and forgoing the necessary safety protocols to curb its spread.

This is according to University of the Western Cape Division for Postgraduate Studies acting director Professor Mario Smith.

Vaccine hesitancy was a common phenomenon when introducing new vaccines, said Smith.

“The underlying issues are multi-faceted. The vaccine is being introduced in the context of high infection rates, misperceptions about the disease, high anxiety about variants and fatigue about lockdown and containment procedures, among other issues. One of the biggest problems is that we need to build the skills to evaluate information critically. The irresponsible use of social media worsens this situation.”

Covid-19 vaccines are not intended to impact on infection rates, said Smith.

“The nature of the virus is that it lurks after infection, and when symptoms present after five to eight days, the virus has colonised the host without a timely trigger of the immune system.

“The Covid-19 vaccines are intended to increase our body alerts to recognise the virus sooner, and our immune systems are triggered sooner.

“This explains why people who have taken the vaccine typically have less intense symptoms - even if they are hospitalised and spend time in ICU, they have a greater probability of recovery.”

Fisantekraal, Nomzamo, Philippi, Delft and Crossroads are some of the areas pointed out by the City with very low vaccination registration rates because of vaccine hesitancy.

Fisantekraal community leaders say they are battling to convince residents to take the Covid-19 jabs amid rising coronavirus infections in the community.

Community leader Elaine Hartzenberg said that despite constant and consistent efforts from leaders, the Health Department and City officials to encourage residents to vaccinate, very few people had heeded the call, making little to no difference in the community’s vaccination stats.

“It’s unfortunate, what’s happening here. Our community has become a hotspot with infections increasing daily, however we are battling to get people to vaccination centres, and it’s not that we haven’t availed correct information or not engaged with them, because we do so daily, but despite that people are not vaccinating,” Hartzenberg said.

“What’s worse is that people are dying here. The situation is so discouraging. I’m not sure what more we can do, but as leaders, we will continue to appeal to residents to please register and vaccinate, because this is the one known chance of us beating this virus.”

Mayco member for Community Services and Health Zahid Badroodien said: “There are multiple reasons why these areas have such low registration rates, including vaccine hesitancy and a lot of misinformation about the vaccines in the public realm, but our residents must block out the noise and visit their nearest clinic for advice instead, if they have reservations about getting vaccinated.”

During the province’s weekly digicon on the Covid-19 pandemic, provincial Head of Health Dr Keith Cloete said with all vaccines, the health-care system’s position has always been to not force or compel anyone to take the vaccine, but to provide as much information available for the targeted group to make an informed decision.

The province had recorded 40 274 active Covid-19 infections, 439 696 confirmed cases to date and 382 970 recoveries, as at 1pm on Thursday.

Cape Argus

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