By Kaya 959 Reporter
While over 18s are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, experts say vaccine hesitancy prevails in all age groups and herd immunity is unlikely.
A recent report revealed that younger people are less likely to be vaccinated compared to older age groups.
The report, which was released by the Centre for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council, suggests the main reason for this is due to fear of possible side effects.
Dr Sheri Fanaroff of the Gauteng General Practitioners’ Collaboration said people fear the vaccine more than they fear contracting COVID-19.
“There may be mild side effects, such as a low-grade fever and headache, body aches and pains and redness or soreness at the site of injection. However, these should subside within a few days, and are a sign the body is building protection against the virus,” she said.
“Despite having enough vaccines, we are hearing about vaccination centres standing empty. This is unacceptable. People are jumping to false and dangerous conclusions that the side effects are harmful and may even result in death,” she added.
Incentives for getting vaccinated
Key findings from the report showed that while the acceptance rate for the 55+ is at 85%, the 18-24 cohort sits at 55%.
The report found that contrary to other research, religion only played a small role in influencing people to vaccinate.
“The most common explanation for those wanting to vaccinate is the desire to protect oneself. For those hesitant, side effects and concerns the vaccine will be ineffective are the most common self-reported explanations,” the report noted.
Fanaroff said South Africa will probably live with COVID-19 for a while.
She said incentives for getting vaccinated could work, for those on the fence the only way to get them to register is to disprove myths around the vaccine.
“By using social media and other platforms, anti-vaxxers spread myths and misinformation to push their agendas. This is doing immeasurable damage to our efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We need to do more to challenge vaccine hesitancy – it’s our only hope of living with COVID-19 without further loss of life,” Fanaroff said.