Anxious in anticipation, Rashid Naheman receives his Covid vaccination from Sr Nomusa Ngobe at the Denis Hurley Centre this week. After his jab, Naheman was ’very happy’ his jab was done. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)
Anxious in anticipation, Rashid Naheman receives his Covid vaccination from Sr Nomusa Ngobe at the Denis Hurley Centre this week. After his jab, Naheman was ’very happy’ his jab was done. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Get back to normal, get the jab

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Oct 9, 2021

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NO DOCUMENTS needed, just your name and date of birth and you can have the Covid vaccination.

That’s the requirement at the Denis Hurley Centre in central Durban, which saw locals, foreigners and homeless people queueing to have their jab this week, despite the rain and cold weather.

The Independent on Saturday visited the centre on Wednesday, where those queueing to have the Covid vaccination at the Denis Hurley said that although there was a “lot of disinformation and vaccine negativity trending on social media”, they were keen to have their vaccinations.

Preferring to remain anonymous, a woman said: “A lot of people are scared to do the vaccination and this fear will destroy our country. In previous years, we have all had vaccinations, I don’t see anything wrong with having a vaccination now.”

Another said: “There’s so much vaccine negativity trending on social media. People should have the vaccine, it’s the right thing to do.”

Denis Hurley Centre director Raymond Perrier said that because the centre ran several projects with undocumented and/or homeless people, those coming for a Covid jab did not need to bring documentation. This was a pilot project that could be replicated in other areas around South Africa where there was a similar need.

“We are already working with these groups and we have a relationship of trust with them. We want to help make sure they can get the Covid vaccination. It’s tricky because they generally distrust government officials, with many having had bad experiences,” said Perrier, adding that the centre was working closely with the Department of Health, which would capture the tracking number for each vaccination done.

“The department (of health) is the major driver and wants to make sure vaccinations are accessible to everyone,” he said, pointing out that having a lot of unvaccinated people in the inner city would pose a health risk to the wider communities of Durban.

Also taking on the challenge of encouraging Covid vaccination and dispelling disinformation among young South Africans, Patrick Mcobothi, the health sector manager for Activate Change Drivers, a network of young leaders across the country, said it had just hosted a webinar which addressed vaccine hesitancy.

Senior researchers from the SA Medical Research CounciI were invited to the webinar to present scientific and factual information on Covid vaccines.

Mcobothi said: “How to break vaccine hesitancy and how sceptical young people are of the vaccine was a major part of the presentation.

“We wanted to encourage young people to have the vaccine and after the webinar, young people had taken screenshots of the presentation and had then put on social media saying: ‘Hey I’ve taken the vaccine’.

“We have been using our social media platforms such as WhatsApp to have conversations and discuss questions around vaccines.”

Mcobothi warned that while the government had bought enough vaccines for everyone, those would expire.

“We are having these conversations daily because we need to save lives.

“The government struggled to get vaccines, now they have enough, but these vaccines are going to expire. Young people need to go and get the jab. Those who have had the jab need to spread the word.

“We have heard from young people who have said ‘I’ve had the jab and I’m feeling great’,” he said, adding that he had his vaccination at the beginning of September.

“I was fine and I’m still good. When my mom had hers, she was a bit tired but she was fine. I can’t lie, I felt so relieved when she had her vaccination,” he said.

By Thursday, close to 10 million South Africans had been vaccinated, with either the two-dose Pfizer or one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Commenting on global vaccine hesitancy research by the World Economic Forum earlier this year, Heidi Larson, the director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The report shows the general public can be highly effective at building vaccine confidence among their friends and family, so we can all play a part in listening to people who have concerns and helping address them.

“We need an all-of-society approach to protect ourselves and our communities against Covid-19.”

The Independent on Saturday

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