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Mzansi, and South African men - in particular, it’s time to get vaccinated

Photojournalist Phandulwazi Jikelo receives his Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine station outside the Khayelitsha Hospital. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Photojournalist Phandulwazi Jikelo receives his Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine station outside the Khayelitsha Hospital. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 9, 2021

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Thousands of South African men are ignoring threats of the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections and the dangers it holds for them and their families by shying away from community vaccination stations created in an attempt to help fight the battle against the virus, writes Rashuping Morake.

Rashuping Morake

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Thousands of South African men are ignoring threats of the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections and the dangers it holds for them and their families by shying away from community vaccination stations created in an attempt to help fight the battle against the virus.

Now is the time for South Africans, men especially, to take action.

The strategy of taking inoculation sites to places where people gather means that it is easier than ever before for them to receive a Covid-19 jab.

However, we are finding that men in particular are declining these opportunities across the country. Every day, our teams report that people, especially men, are sceptical about getting vaccinated.

Many ignore our vaccinators who ask if they have been immunised, and others bluntly state that they will not inoculate.

It seems tragic that this active denialism is taking place at a time when authorities are reporting a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa added his voice to warn about the rise of the fourth wave of infections and appealed to all to get vaccinated. We need to take into account that the new Omicron variant is spreading rampantly, infection rates are soaring, and the death rate is beginning to rise.

What is worse is that people are refusing vaccinations when year-end functions and holidays are upon us. With many businesses closing, this means more people at home, more family events and further opportunities for the virus to spread.

It is concerning that in many cases when infections occur it will be breadwinners, traditionally the guardians of families, who will be introducing the Covid threat to their homes. Although more people are responding to the president’s call and getting vaccinated, we need to also urgently take this appeal onboard.

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The attitude towards Covid-19 inoculations is mirrored in the long-standing way that many citizens, men in particular, respond to the threat of HIV/ Aids. Rather than take steps to know their HIV status, many men place the responsibility for testing on their partners.

Personally, undertaking an examination occurs only when there appears to be no other option.

Although much is being done to encourage people to fight and defeat the virus through social distancing, wearing masks and being immunised, the messages are generic. Reaching those whose egos endanger others, stemming from all classes of society, will mean taking a direct and targeted approach.

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The time is now for authorities, and all involved in the struggle against Covid-19, to get South Africans men to “wake up”. We must work together to help each other realise that taking action against this virus is about personal involvement. We all need to ensure that we do not become links in the chain which enables this virus to continue impacting on the health of South Africans and claiming thousands of lives.

* Rashuping Morake is the chief executive of Rhiza Babuyile, a community public benefit organisation that works under the auspices of the Department of Health and which has immunised nearly 9 000 people at sites in shopping malls and various locations across the nation.

** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Independent Media/IOL.

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