DURBAN - A new study has revealed that only 40% of Africans want Covid-19 jabs to be mandatory.
This is according to the PLOS One (Public Library of Science), a published peer-reviewed journal that surveyed a cross-section of African residents in 29 African countries and Africans in the diaspora.
This comes after reports that the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination could potentially accelerate vaccine uptake and the attainment of herd immunity. However, the study found that only 40% of Africans support the idea of compulsory jabs.
Some of the findings showed substantial vaccine hesitancy among Africans.
It stated that only 63% of participants would received Covid-19 vaccinations as soon as possible, while 5% would receive the vaccines after considering their safety among earlier vaccinated individuals.
The study explained that the respondents received Covid-19 information from healthcare workers (51%), scientists (44%), news media (43%), and schools (41%).
According to the study, 26% believed the vaccines were unnecessary, while 43% believed alternatives to Covid-19 vaccination existed.
The researchers evaluated perceived SARS-CoV-2 risk and vaccine hesitancy among respondents and identified socio-demographic factors related to vaccine hesitancy. They also examined previous practices regarding vaccination as a significant predictor of future practices.
Co-author and senior research scientist at the University of Cape Town’s Lung Institute, Dr Shameem Jaumdally, said they found that respondents’ risk perception was related to their attitude to Covid-19 vaccines.
“The odds of vaccine hesitancy was substantially low if participant’s perceived risk of infection or sickness was very high,” he said.
Jaumdally said about 60% of respondents in the study knew at least one person infected with the coronavirus, adding that they believed they had a medium to very high risk of being infected and developing severe illness.
He said vaccine hesitancy was more common among young people than older adults, and in rural areas compared to urban.
“The burden of Covid-19 was considerably less among young people, partly due to their lower risk of comorbidities. Urban residents experienced a more significant disease burden and suffered a greater economic impact as a result of the pandemic.
“The overall self-rated knowledge, perception, and awareness of vaccines were high in our study. Most respondents claimed to understand how vaccines work, the routes of vaccination, and which vaccines are recommended for adults,” said Jaumdally.
He said the concern regarding vaccine safety was the most common issues in the study.
“The majority of respondents were worried about the vaccines’ side effects, and many were even concerned that they might get infected with the coronavirus by obtaining the vaccine,” he said.
Jaumdally further stated that many respondents advocated for information campaigns as part of vaccination programmes.
“Respondents identified the value of convenience to improve the accessibility of vaccinations. Although many of them were willing to travel up to an hour to receive vaccines, they recommended vaccination at beneficiaries’ homes or offices. Addressing these ’last-mile issues’ could drastically reduce vaccine hesitancy,” he said.