Cape Town – Only 40% of Africans support the idea of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. This is according to findings of an online survey among residents in 29 African countries and Africans in the diaspora. These findings were published in a peer-reviewed journal, PLOS One.
The study also found notable vaccine hesitancy among Africans living in Africa as well as in the diaspora.
The findings are worrying as Covid-19 mandatory vaccination could potentially accelerate vaccine uptake and the attainment of herd immunity.
The researchers found a link between risk perception and attitude to the vaccine.
“We found that respondents’ risk perception was related to their attitude to Covid-19 vaccines. The odds of vaccine hesitancy was substantially low if participant’s perceived risk of infection or sickness was very high,” said Dr Shameem Jaumdally, co-author and senior research scientist at the University of Cape Town’s Lung Institute.
“Most respondents in our study (≥60%) knew at least one person infected with the coronavirus and believed that they had a medium to very high risk of being infected and developing severe illness. Nonetheless, vaccine hesitancy was high in our population – 26% believed the vaccines were unnecessary, and 43% believed alternatives to Covid-19 vaccination exist.”
Jaumdally said vaccine hesitancy was more common among young people than older adults and in rural areas compared to urban ones.
The scientist added that the burden of Covid-19 was “considerably less among young people” due to the lower risk of comorbidities.
“The overall self-rated knowledge, perception, and awareness of vaccines were high in our study. Most respondents claimed to understand how vaccines work, the routes of vaccination, and which vaccines are recommended for adults,” he said.
Concerns about vaccine safety were common in the study, with the majority of respondents being worried about the vaccines’ side effects, while others were concerned that they might get infected with the Covid-19 by obtaining the vaccine.
Neverteless, 63% of participants indicated they would receive Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible and 5% would receive vaccines after considering their safety among earlier vaccinated individuals.