Queen of England inspires SA granny to face Covid-19 vaccine fears
CAPE TOWN - “After seeing that the Queen of England has taken the vaccine and she is fine, I am no longer afraid of it,” says the 71-year-old Sheila Rice.
Although doubtful about its effectiveness, Rice, who is a resident at Tafta (The Association For The Aged) in Durban, said she is happy the vaccine is benefiting people.
“Personally, I would not take the vaccine. I rarely received even a normal flu vaccine because I believe people need to be more careful in preventing themselves from getting sick,” added Rice.
Another Tafta resident that IOL spoke to was 67-year-old Linda Barnabas, who also expressed her reservation about the vaccine.
“I am not sure what to think of the vaccine. I am very sceptical as the vaccine was developed within such a short period of time,” she said.
Barnabas previously worked at a pharmacy and because of underlying conditions, says she was unable to continue working.
“This pandemic had a great impact on me. It has also been an emotional roller-coaster with losing many loved ones, and being away from family over the festive period,” she says.
When asked if she would be getting the vaccine, Barnabas said no because she thinks it's quite risky.
“I prefer to remain vigilant, practising preventative measures like wearing a mask, sanitising and social distancing. I would also stick to trusted medications and remedies to fight against the virus,” she said.
Meanwhile, 79-year-old Simangele Prudence Sibisi had more hope that the vaccine would help South Africa get through the pandemic.
“It is good that older people will be receiving the vaccine after front-line workers. I would like to see how effective the vaccine is in protecting people,” said Sibisi.
But Sibisi said she would only take the vaccine once she is sure it works.
“I am afraid but we will see if the vaccine works once they start issuing the vaccine. The pandemic and the lockdown made me very depressed.
’’It was difficult to make ends meet and we couldn’t be around people. It was very difficult and has really damaged the world,” she said.
Elderly people are among the first group that will receive the vaccine.
Tafta CEO Femada Shamam says the responses from the elders illustrate their fear and anxiety around taking the vaccine.
“We are, however, very cognisant of the perceptions and misinformation around the vaccine. One must remember that our elders are also often passive recipients of communication from the younger generation, who are much more tech savvy. So when these myths are forwarded on at an exponential rate, they become fact and feed levels of anxiety older people already feel as a vulnerable population.
“It is therefore extremely important for the government to roll out an aggressive communication drive to help dispel the myths that may prevent large segments of the population from subscribing to the rollout and taking the vaccine when the time comes,” said Shamam.
However, for Joanne Mocke Herbst, who runs an NGO for the elderly, The Elder’s Voice, in Amanzimtoti, Durban, the pandemic has added to their expenses, but the biggest adverse effect is that their elderly folk are not able to see their loved ones.
“We are told every day on the news that we should get immune-boosting medication, but our elderly cannot afford it with their Sassa grants. They simply cannot afford it, everything is expensive. We are asking for the public to assist us with immune-boosting medication for our elderly,” she said.
As far as the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine is concerned, Herbst said it's like a Catch-22. A lot of them get the flu injections, and a lot of them refuse to get the flu injections because it has an adverse effect on them.
“So half of them are really geared up and happy to have the vaccine and really want to be protected against Covid and the other half are asking what guarantees do we have that we are not going to get Covid if we take this vaccine. They feel like there’s not enough information as far as a Covid vaccine is concerned,” said Herbst.