JOHANNESBURG: A new study from the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Change shows that two out of three adults would be willing to take the Covid-19 vaccine if it became available.
UJ, in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES) research division, made the findings on Monday after undertaking an online study among just over 10 000 participants, between December 29 and January 6.
The study was conducted through the Moya Messenger app, which directed those polled to the survey.
The findings of this new study will put pressure on the government to act fast on securing vaccines for the greater populace before new variants and mutations of the virus become a factor.
Key findings from the study showed that just under 7/10 (or 67%) of adults would take, or probably would take, the vaccine if it were available, almost 2/10 (18%) would definitely not or probably would not take the vaccine, while just under 2/10 (15%) did not yet know if they would take the vaccine or not.
The study was conducted in six local languages and the findings were weighted by race, education and age, to ensure they were broadly representative of the population at large. The study also found that race, level of education and age played a role in how people responded to the vaccine question.
The study found that 69% of black African adults would definitely or probably would take the vaccine, compared with 55% of white adults.
By education, 59% of those with a tertiary education said they would take the vaccine, while 72% of those with matric education said they would.
By age, just 63% of people between the 18-24 age category said they would take vaccine, while 74% of those over 55 said they would take the vaccine.
By political parties, 78% of ANC supporters said they would take the vaccine, the highest of any political party. In terms of the DA, 65% of their supporters said they would take the vaccine, while 62% of the EFF’s supporters said they would take the vaccine. Those who said they did not intend to vote in the next elections, just 48% of them said they would take the vaccine.
UJ’s Professor Kate Alexander said the higher acceptance among tertiary educated people vs those with a matric education was due to the fact that those who were more educated wanted more information, as there were many conflicting versions, especially on social media.
“They want to be reassured and convinced because there are so many versions on social media,” said Alexander.
“What is clear to see from this study is that there is clear acceptance from all demographics, the majority of people want the vaccine, so this puts the pressure on the President to act, and act fast.
“He needs to get the vaccine into people’s arms as quickly as possible, you want to do this quickly before new variants become an issue and, in my view, none of the vaccines that are available are expensive, especially when you compare them to the possible loss of life, the economy or a third wave,” she said.
Explaining the hesitancy over the vaccine, Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller from the HSRC said vaccine hesitancy was due to legitimate concerns about a vaccine developed and rolled-out in record time, as well as distrust in the government and corporations.
“We need a vaccine literacy campaign that provides factual information that will sway those who are wavering,” said Bohler-Muller.
Just 10% of those sampled referred to conspiracy theories when they indicated they would not or did not know if they would take the vaccine. Common citings for reluctance were about the effectiveness of the vaccine, side effects and uncertainty about testing, while others said they needed more information.
Those who said they would take the vaccine said they were taking it to protect themselves or others, and others often answered with both answers.
Alexander said the results from the study were great news.
“It is excellent news that such a large and representative survey shows that 67% now want to take the vaccine. The biggest challenge is to make sure that the majority get what they want.”
Meanwhile, 73% of respondents believed President Ramaphosa was doing either a good or very good job in managing the Covid-19 outbreak, while 36% felt he was doing a bad or very bad job.