Premier, Alan Winde, the Western Cape Health Department and religious leaders are fighting another war - the war against the misconception on the Covid-19 vaccines.
They say pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson which produced the vaccines, have been at the forefront of the manufacturing of medications we find inside our medicine cabinets for decades, like Viagra, multivitamins to Ponstan to Sinutab and infant products.
They can reveal that the age group between 50-59, have shown a slow response in taking the vaccine and are ironically, 68% of hospitalised patients and 87% of deaths during the third wave.
So far, 1087 821 people in the Western Cape have been vaccinated.
In terms of registrations:
477 595 in the over 60 age cohort have registered;
318 808 in the 50-59 age cohort have registered; and
518 765 in the 35-49 age cohort have registered.
In terms of vaccinations:
450 175 in the over 60 age cohort have been vaccinated. Of which, 323 404 have been fully vaccinated;
286 772 in the 50-59 age cohort have been vaccinated. Of which, 74 909 have been fully vaccinated; and
350 874 in the 35-49 age cohort have been vaccinated. Of which, 133 159 have been fully vaccinated.
Premier Winde said he wanted the public to be mindful of relying on fake news and beliefs that the vaccines (Pfizer/JNJ), had been created too quickly and were not tested correctly and would not be effective.
While they have indicated that their own medical and nursing staff were proof that their latest weapon, the vaccine to fight the invisible enemy, was in fact effective as there had been a huge reduction in infections and death of staff as compared with the second wave before mass vaccinations took place.
“It is important to identify and address the misconceptions around getting vaccinated against Covid-19 as this will help us to address vaccine hesitancy and achieve population-level protection against severe disease and death.
“Misconceptions or concerns include that the vaccine was made too quickly and is not safe; and that the vaccine will not prevent infection and transmission.
“In addressing these misconceptions, it is important to note that the vaccine has been rigorously tested both locally and internationally and it has been found safe to use by the appropriate health authorities.
“I remind residents that the vaccine offers excellent defence against serious illness and death. We are seeing fewer infections, hospitalisations and deaths among those vaccinated.
“As with many other vaccines, patients may experience minor, temporary side effects, like a sore arm, after getting vaccinated.
“More serious side-effects are extremely rare. In fact, the risk of dying from Covid-19 far outweighs even the extremely rare, serious side effects of the vaccine.
The data has shown that the age groups between 50 and 59, were slow in registering and receiving the vaccine and attributed to the most deaths and hospitalisation during the third wave.
“We remain concerned about the lower uptake in the 50-59 age cohort. We are also working around the clock to ensure that those in the 60+ age group who have not yet been vaccinated receive a vaccine opportunity. It is encouraging to see that this age group, which is among the most at-risk of severe illness and death, has also had the highest uptake in getting vaccinated.
“During the third wave, those aged 50 years and older accounted for 68% of admissions and 87% of deaths respectively.
“This confirms that these residents remain one of the most vulnerable groups to suffer severe illness and death and will continue to be those who require the most support from the health-care system.”
Again, they have indicated, data proved the vaccine was effective with 69.33% of their staff who had been vaccinated and that deaths and hospitalisation had decreased dramatically.
“One of the most important ways that we are protecting our healthcare workers is through vaccinations,” said the Western Cape Health Department’s, Mark van der Heever.
“As of 19 August, we have successfully vaccinated 69.33% of our health-care staff.
“Since we started vaccinating health-care workers and if you compare to the previous waves, it is clear the vaccine offers protection as fewer infections and more notably, hospitalisations and deaths.”
According to Professors Glenda Gray and Linda Gail Bekker, who are part of the Protocol Leadership for the Sisonke Study team, the update on the Janssen (JNJ) Ad26.COV2.S Vaccine provides 91 to 95% protection against death and 65 to 66% hospitalisation prevention.
When breakthrough infections happen, the professors report that 96% will be mild, 3% moderate, 0.05% severe and 0.05% death.
The Western Cape Health Department’s Bryon la Hoe has again warned people with diabetes to be cautious, stating they were more at risk of having severe infections and was calling on them to have themselves vaccinated.
“Persons living with diabetes are at risk of severe Covid-19 if they become infected,” he said.
“In fact, the severity of Covid-19 is tripled in the diabetes community. Persons who have poor glucose control (fasting blood glucose >7.8 mmol/L, HbA1c>7%)) are particularly at risk.
Religious leaders are fighting their own battle, encouraging people to get themselves vaccinated and are aware of many churches who are against the jab.
Reverend Oscar Peter Bougardt of the Calvary HOPE Ministries said he encouraged his congregation to get the jab, refuting stories that it was the sign of the beast and was asking the government to carry out an education programme for churches to dispel confusion.
“I am really saddened that pastors spread fake news regarding vaccines. Many pastors tell their members that the vaccine is the mark of the beast or the 666 that the bible speaks about. These pastors are fools and I don’t agree with them. I encourage our members to do what is best for themselves as well as their families and advise people to ask medical staff at vaccination sites for information about the pandemic and vaccine.
“There is such a lot of confusion regarding the vaccination and pastors are not making it easier for members to make a choice. The bible clearly states that the mark of the beast will be on the forehead and right hand not in the upper arm.
“I’ve been arguing with lots of foolish pastors to allow their congregations to make their own choice. The government is underestimating the size of the small church, they should go on a drive to educate pastors and church leaders.
“I think the biggest culprit for people not being vaccinated is misinformation and fake news coupled with uneducated pastors and leaders.
“Personally I feel it’s not my place to tell people to go or not to go, it’s their choice and if they get to vaccination sites, ask questions and if medical professionals cannot answer questions come back to me.
While Sheikh Riad Fataar, the deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said the MJC carried out two vaccinations drives to encourage people and that he himself and the council’s president had received the vaccine.
“We will always promote and encourage people to go for the vaccine,” he said.
“I took the vaccine and we have had two vaccination drives as the MJC.”
Vanessa Kearns, who works at a Cape Town vaccination site is encouraging people to get the vaccine even after she tested positive following her jab.
I went for my first jab on July 26, and on August 2 I started working at a vaccination site,” she said.
“On August 5, I detected I could not taste and I went to my supervisor , who advised me to have myself tested. On August 7th, I received my results and I was positive.
“The only symptoms I had were that I lost my taste for three days and I had a slight cough, tight chest and I am hypertensive. I believe because I had the vaccine, that is why I had mild symptoms.
“When people in my community heard I was positive, they said how can it be because I got the jab. But I had to explain to them that it doesn't mean that you cannot get Covid, it prevents severe symptoms.”