A University of Johannesburg survey has shown that concerns among citizens who are hesitant about taking the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine are related to side effects, the efficacy of the vaccine and distrust of the vaccine and/or government.
On Wednesday morning, the institution’s Centre for Social Change, in collaboration with the Developmental, Ethical and Capable State research division of the Human Sciences Research Council revealed the results of their fourth survey concerning vaccine acceptance and hesitancy.
Explanations for vaccine hesitancy related to social media and/or rumours only made up a small proportion, while reasons related to religious objections or conspiracy theories, similarly, make up only 2% of responses.
“With information sources, the lowest acceptance rate was associated with social media and the highest rate with flyers, with television and radio in the middle. There is a case for intensifying campaigning across all platforms, but television is the most important because it has the greatest influence, followed by radio,” the survey found.
The report demonstrates that class factors do not strongly influence vaccine acceptance but rather influence access to vaccination.
Using medical aid as one proxy for class, it shows that there were similar acceptance rates for those with and without coverage, but those with coverage were twice as likely to have been vaccinated. Car ownership revealed a similar pattern.
The government was initially faced with a problem where there was not enough supply for the high demand of vaccinations, but recently this has changed. Vaccination sites in the last week have experienced a significant decline of citizens going to be jabbed.
In Gauteng, vaccination sites at the Berario Recreation Centre in Randburg; Milpark Hospital and Parkhurst Clinic in Johannesburg; and on the West Rand are all deemed quiet. In the Western Cape, areas such as Nomzamo, Philippi and Delft have recorded the lowest vaccination.
The announcement that vaccinations were open for people 35 and over, as well as for media practitioners, was met with much excitement last month. However, the number of people vaccinating has not lived up to the hype.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde is among those who believe that national government should open vaccination for people 18 years and older earlier than the announced date of September 1.
Those who were keen on getting the jab said it was because they wanted to be protected or to save society, while black South Africans have become more accepting of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine.
“White adults have bucked the main trend, becoming more hesitant, and their acceptance rate is now only a little more than half.
Black African adults showed the largest increase in their willingness to take a Covid-19 vaccine, from 69% to 75% between round 3 [of the survey] and round 4, and the acceptance rate was stable for coloured adults and Indian or Asian adults,” according to the survey results.
These are the other key points highlighted in the survey:
Men were slightly more accepting than women (74% compared with 70%), but slightly less likely to have been vaccinated (9% compared with 12%).
Out of six “settlement types”, people living in suburban houses had the lowest acceptance rate (69%) but the highest rate of vaccination (18%).
There was a higher vaccine acceptance among people living in rural areas compared with urban areas.
There was minimal variation in rates of acceptance and vaccination across a spectrum between extremely religious and extremely nonreligious citizens.
Vaccine acceptance is higher among people who say they know “a lot” about Covid-19 vaccines (79%), than among those who say they know “a fair amount” (74%), “a little” (72%) and “nothing at all” (62%). The implication is that increased knowledge will lead to increased acceptance.
The survey was available in English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Setswana and Sesotho, and was completed by 7 631 participants.
The majority of participants completed the survey using smartphones and, to cover the gap, older people were included via a telephone survey. The telephone survey was conducted between July 14 and July 20 and provided an additional 258 responses from those aged 60 and above.