Vaccine fears threaten to derail vaccinations

By Roland Mpofu Time of article published May 15, 2021

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Less than a quarter of the elderly people in Gauteng have registered for Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout that starts tomorrow across the country. The rollout comes amid the province being on the brink of the third wave of the pandemic.

The Sunday Independent this week spoke to some Soweto residents who raised concerns about the safety of the vaccines.

Pinky Ndlovu, 61, from White City said she has not registered because she was afraid of the side effects. “Most of the people here are not going to take this vaccine. We are afraid we might even get sick after being vaccinated. We have heard a lot of negative things about this thing. So I am not going to register,” she said.

On the other side of town in Jabavu, a 62-year-old resident, who only identified herself as MakaPhindile, was equally sceptical about taking the shot, saying there wasn’t enough information provided to them.

“We don't know much about this vaccination. You are the only person who has come here to talk about this issue. The government is supposed to do door-to-door campaigns, like what they do when they want us to vote for them.

“We have a huge open field here where the officials can come and address us and tell us the benefits of these vaccines. What if I take it today and then get sick the following day?” she asked.

In the same breath, a local bottle store owner who did not want to be identified said he was concerned about the safety of the vaccines.

“I am not going to take the vaccine, and if I am going to take it, I will be the last person to do so.

The slow uptake and fears are despite the Gauteng Health Department saying it had conducted various media campaigns to inform and educate the elderly about the rollout.

“Government has used a number of communication platforms including print, radio, TV, digital and social media to disseminate information,” said Gauteng Health Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana, adding that 276 503 people out of a target of 1.3 million have been registered.

On Friday, at the opening of a new 181-bed hospital in Carletonville, West Rand, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said their priority now is slowing down the infection rate and increasing the pace of vaccination.

“The Sisonke programme, targeting healthcare workers will be concluding on Saturday, 15 May 2021. The province will commence with Phase 2 1b of the vaccination programme on Monday, 17 May 2021.

“This will be a concurrent vaccination process of the elderly above the age of 60 years and healthcare workers who did not get vaccinated in the implementation study phase.

A call centre has been set up to assist with the registration process. Members of the public are urged to call 0860 428 8364 or visit: https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za.

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