Rustenburg – Many African countries have received or are expecting their first batch of Covid-19 vaccines in February, but some citizens are suspicious of the jab.
Social media platforms are flooded with conspiracy theories questioning why the vaccine was being rushed and why it took scientists a short period to develop it, whereas it took them years to develop vaccines for other diseases.
Pictures circulating on social media purport to depict how would people look after vaccination. In the pictures, the people look old and disfigured.
"I am not taking the vaccine, I do not want to die," said Maria Nkong from Rustenburg, South Africa. "What have they put in that vaccine?" she asked.
“I am not taking the jab,” her friend Esther Ntsamba chipped in.
“Let politicians be the first to get the vaccines, opposition parties should monitor whether the ruling party gets the same doses the general public will get. The ruling party should also in turn oversee that opposition get the same vaccine.
“Maybe after that I will consider taking the jab, if politicians do not have any problems after the injection.”
Another South African, Edwin Phiri, said he would take the jab, although he was not sure about its safety.
“I do not want to die of Covid-19. At the same time, I am not sure whether the vaccine is safe. It is a dilemma. I can die from Covid or the vaccine,” he said.
He said President Cyril Ramaphosa was correct not to force people to take the vaccine.
“It should be an individual choice to take the vaccine, it should not be pushed down our throats.”
In a televised address on Monday, Ramaphosa made it clear that nobody would be forced to be vaccinated.
’’I want to be clear, nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated.
"Nobody will be given this vaccine against their will, nor will the vaccine be administered in secret. Any rumours to this effect are both false and dangerous," Ramaphosa said.
South Africa received its first batch of vaccines from India on Monday.
Namibian President Hage Geingob has volunteered to be the first Namibian to take the Covid-19 jab to allay fears over its safety.
"I will be willing in public to be the first one, but I hope nobody is going to say elites have lined up and left the people dying in the streets. Front-line workers should have been the first. I am willing to be the first one," he said on Wednesday during his national address on Covid-19.
"I am aware that there is much public suspicion and apprehension around the safety of Covid-19 vaccines. Rest assured that the government will not do anything to compromise the health of our people. I therefore implore all Namibians to avail themselves for the vaccine, as and when it becomes available," he said.
Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has also spoken out against those who spread incorrect information on social media platforms about the safety of vaccines.
"Our very own scientists in our very own laboratories will verify the safety of the vaccine and will give you full information so that no one is misled by social media lies and propaganda against vaccination that the scientific community has worked hard to provide to save lives," Chakwera said.
Malawi was expected to receive the first batch of vaccines towards the end of February and start vaccinating in early March.
African News Agency (ANA)