The Health Department’s Covid-19 Social Listening Report says that of the 21.3 million (as of Saturday) people that have been vaccinated for Covid-19 in the country, only 1.5 million downloaded their vaccine certificate document.
THE HEALTH Department’s Covid-19 Social Listening Report says that of the 21.3 million (as of Saturday) people that have been vaccinated for Covid-19 in the country, only 1.5 million downloaded their vaccine certificate document.
It said the website-based document system had not been without its own glitches as respondents complained of having difficulties accessing their vaccine certificate code.
The department said that this led to many calls being made to its hotline call centre to sort out issues, such as details being incorrectly registered on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) system.
The report also highlighted multiple anecdotal evidence that there was only a slight shift in public sentiments from vaccine hesitancy towards more keenness for vaccination, in many parts of the country.
Logistical barriers such as transportation, long waiting times, and vaccination sites not being easily accessed in places such as the Eastern Cape discouraged take-up, especially in rural areas.
Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said that the youth cohort aged 18 to 34 were highlighted as the main age group with the greatest vaccine hesitancy throughout the country.
Mohale said this age group was more likely to spread viral messages and myths on social media, especially fake news about supposed “dangerous side-effects”.
He added that one piece of research suggested that overall acceptance of vaccination among the 18 to 25 year olds had declined from 63% in June to 55% in October.
“Some South African music artists have released songs that undermine confidence in vaccines, which increases fear and vaccine hesitancy.”
In addition, narratives about incentivised, mandatory and coerced vaccination were generating opposition to vaccination.
“Many individuals who were not against vaccination per se, are angry and now refusing to vaccinate as they feel their freedom of choice is going to be restricted. People who have opposed any Covid-19 vaccination are now taking advantage of legitimate debate around compulsory vaccination to increase levels of protest against the whole vaccine roll-out,” said Mohale.
The Social Listening Report said that in particular the ACDP has opposition to “forced” vaccination as a core part of their local election campaign.
Mohale added: “However, the SA Human Rights Commission says it is constitutionally permissible to require vaccination in specific circumstances. Several companies now have vaccine mandates, including Mediclinic and Life Healthcare and many more are considering it.”