Tshwane youth flock to get vaccinated but numbers drop for elderly
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Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has raised concerns about negative messages deterring elderly residents from getting vaccinated for Covid-19.
While the 18-34 age group was still flocking in large numbers to vaccination sites, the same could not be said for the elderly, said Health MMC Sakkie du Plooy.
He said the City was concerned about the low turnout levels of elderly residents at vaccination sites.
Du Plooy said they were particularly concerned about the reluctance of 60 year-olds and above, and the 50+ age groups, as to date only 41% had been vaccinated.
He said this was despite numerous health stakeholders, the Centres for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization reporting that older unvaccinated adults were more likely to be admitted to hospital or die from Covid-19-related complications.
"They are the most vulnerable and at the most risk of dying from Covid-19-related complications, so we are extremely concerned about not enough of them getting vaccinated."
Du Plooy said things were even worse with the 50 to 59 age group, as only 14% in Tshwane had been vaccinated.
The MMC said that even though the 35+ age group started off well, their numbers were also steadily dropping. "The turnout for the 18+ group is still doing very well at this time, but we don't know what will happen in the coming weeks, as they may also start dropping as the weeks' progress. But we hope not."
He said the City would be embarking on a major awareness drive on Saturday with pastors and bishops in attendance at the Elim Full Gospel Church in Hatfield, to get health faculty members to give them the facts and an opportunity to address any questions or concerns.
"We are currently trying to get community leaders to inform them (older age groups) not to believe these fake stories doing the rounds, because some of the people are now reluctant to vaccinate, pointing to messages they had received on various WhatsApp groups as a reason.
"The stories being circulated are the reason some people are now refusing to get vaccinated, but we will be calling on councillors, community heroes and general practitioners to help us because the people believe them.
“If we can organise them, it may help."
Du Plooy said they would not stop there but would seek to mobilise traditional leaders to inform them of the benefits of vaccination.
"We must understand clearly that vaccination does not prevent one from getting Covid-19 at all. However, it prevents anyone who gets it from getting very sick or dying."