Only 40% of Africans want vaccine mandates, study finds

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  • A University of Cape Town study finds that only 40% of Africans support Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
  • The study found that there was high vaccine hesitancy among Africans living in Africa as well as in the diaspora.  
  • The National Economic Development and Labour Council has said it supports mandates. 

A new study by the University of Cape Town (UCT) has found that while vaccine mandates might assist in improving uptake of the vaccines, only 40% of Africans supported them.

The study found that there was high vaccine hesitancy among Africans living in Africa as well as in the diaspora. Only 63% of participants would be willing to receive a Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible, and an additional 5% would receive vaccines after considering their safety in people who vaccinated before them.  

In the past few months, several private companies and institutions of higher learning had introduced Covid-19 vaccine mandates. 

The government had also set up a task team to look into whether it should implement mandates. This week the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) announced they recommended a Covid-19 vaccine mandate and a public gathering restriction to the unvaccinated. 

READ | Jab jostling: Vaccination mandate debate polarises society and business alike

The online survey was done with African residents in 29 African countries and Africans in the diaspora and published in the journal PLOS One. The researchers evaluated perceived Covid-19 risk and vaccine hesitancy among respondents and identified sociodemographic factors related to vaccine hesitancy.

They also examined previous practices regarding vaccination as a significant predictor of future practices.

"We found that respondents' risk perception was related to their attitude to Covid-19 vaccines. The odds of vaccine hesitancy was substantially low if participants' perceived risk of infection or sickness was very high," said Shameem Jaumdally, co-author and senior research scientist at UCT's Lung Institute.

"Most respondents in our study knew at least one person infected with the coronavirus and believed that they had a medium to very high risk of being infected and developing severe illness. Nonetheless, vaccine hesitancy was high in our population - 26% believed the vaccines were unnecessary, and 43% believed alternatives to Covid-19 vaccination exist."

Jaumdally said vaccine hesitancy was highest among young people than older adults and in rural areas compared to urban respondents.

"The burden of Covid-19 was considerably less among young people, partly due to their lower risk of comorbidities. Urban residents experienced a more significant disease burden and suffered a greater economic impact as a result of the pandemic.

He said:

The overall self-rated knowledge, perception, and awareness of vaccines were high in our study. Most respondents claimed to understand how vaccines work, the routes of vaccination, and which vaccines are recommended for adults.

The biggest concern among respondents was the safety of the vaccine, he said.  

"The majority of respondents were worried about the vaccine's side-effects and many were even concerned that they might get infected with the coronavirus by obtaining the vaccine. Concerns about vaccine safety could strongly worsen any vaccine hesitancy, and planning for Covid-19 vaccination programmes should proactively anticipate this challenge," he said.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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