New report: Vaccine acceptance rising in SA

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  • There has been an increase in vaccine acceptance in South Africa since February.
  • 53% of vaccine-hesitant people said they regarded the Covid-19 vaccines as "harmful and unsafe".
  • SA could have administered 1.3 million more vaccinations if weekend vaccinations had taken place.

Vaccine acceptance has risen from 71% in February 2021 to 76% in May 2021, according to the latest National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM)

The latest NIDS-CRAM ("wave 5") was released on Thursday. The survey focused on vaccines, hunger, schooling, employment, gender and mental health. Wave 5 was conducted from 6 April to 11 May 2021 with 4 996 participants.

Increased vaccine acceptance 

The fifth wave report has found that many previously hesitant people are now accepting of Covid-19 vaccines. Half of those who were vaccine-hesitant in prior NIDS-CRAM waves have now changed their minds and are willing to be vaccinated.

Between April and May 2021, two-thirds of the survey participants agreed with the statement "If a vaccine for Covid-19 were available, I would get it". It is an increase from 55% to 64%.

Vaccine concerns 

As part of the country’s second phase of the vaccination programme, registration was opened up for people over the age of 60. The survey found that 78% of people in this age group were willing to get the Covid-19 vaccine, but evidence from the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) shows that after more than two months, the registrations of people over 60 were much lower than their stated willingness to be vaccinated in surveys.

Limpopo is the only province where the number of registrations is close to the survey number – at 77%.

The survey recorded that 53% of vaccine-hesitant people regarded the Covid-19 vaccines as "harmful and unsafe", while 22% just said “no”, and 25% said that they did not know.

Weekends slowing vaccination down

Currently, public vaccination sites do not operate over the weekends. The survey found that this has slowed down South Africa’s vaccination programme. 

“Most recent data show that 163 000 doses were administered on Tuesday 6 July 2021, while on Sunday 4 July only 6 609 doses were administered. This means that weekend vaccinations are only 4% of weekday vaccination rates,” the report states.

“If you add up all of these potential vaccinations and you look at the rates of vaccination on Mondays and Fridays and interpolate, it means that we've administered 1.3 million fewer vaccinations than we would have been able to if we had been vaccinating on weekends,” says co-principal investigator of NIDS-CRAM Nic Spaull.

The researchers added that vaccinations over a weekend may also be a lot more convenient for workers than weekday vaccinations.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

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READ | Low Covid hospitalisation rates in England show vaccines are protecting people against Delta variant

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