Report reveals over 18s less eager to take Covid-19 vaccine

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Aug 19, 2021

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DURBAN – Cabinet on Thursday approved the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines for the 18-35 cohort, however research has shown that many in the age group could skip their turn.

A report on vaccine hesitancy and acceptance by the Centre for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council revealed that younger people are less likely to accept vaccines than older people. While the acceptance rate for those aged 55+ is at 85%, for the 18-24 group, it was only 55%.

“Contrary to other research, the report found that religiosity plays a minor role in influencing the willingness to vaccinate. The most common explanation for those wanting to vaccinate is the desire to protect oneself. For those hesitant, side effects and concerns the vaccine will be ineffective are the most common self-reported explanations,” the report stated.

While vaccine hesitancy prevails in all age groups, considering the size of this particular category, experts are worried about the prospects of reaching herd immunity.

Experts said not reaching this point soon will have a massive impact on people’s survival and many businesses, further pressuring already overextended health resources and SA’s crippling economy.

Gauteng General Practitioners’ Collaboration, Dr Sheri Fanaroff, said the main reason people, young included, are reluctant to get vaccinated is the fear of possible side effects.

“Despite having enough vaccines, we are hearing about vaccination centres standing empty. This is unacceptable. People are jumping to false and dangerous conclusions that the side effects are harmful and may even result in death. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has found no link between vaccines and deaths,” she said.

Fanaroff said the risk of being infected with Covid-19 is far greater than the risk of getting vaccinated.

“There may be mild side effects, such as a low-grade fever and headache, body aches and pains and redness or soreness at the site of injection. However, these should subside within a few days, and are a sign the body is building protection against the virus,” she said.

According to Fanaroff, SA is likely to be “living with Covid-19” for a good while.

“Despite our best efforts, it’s unlikely that SA will reach herd immunity against Covid-19. Without this protection, the vaccine is our only hope to prevent severe infections and death. People of all ages need to make informed decisions. We implore everyone over the age of 18 to register for their vaccination and encourage their peers, parents and grandparents to register as well,” she said.

Research suggests that 16% of vaccine fence sitters believe that they are not enough at risk of contracting Covid-19, despite evidence that the Delta variant is the most transmissible form of the virus so far.

“If we want to prevent even more people from falling ill and dying, it is imperative we dispel the misconceptions being peddled about the vaccine’s side effects and efficacy on social media and elsewhere,” she said.

Fanaroff said it is alarming that vaccine demand is slowing significantly in the 35-49 age group after their initial enthusiasm, which saw a record 1.5 million registrations within the first 48 hours.

She said Stats SA’s Covid-19 data shows significant infection rates in this age group, with two out of every 100 people in this category contracting the disease. Approximately 5% of those infected in this age group need hospitalisation.


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