FRIDAY BRIEFING | The Vax nuts: Why vaccine hesitancy is the scourge of our times

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The Vax nuts: Why vaccine hesitancy is the scourge of our times

As of Wednesday night, over 82 000 South Africans had died from Covid-19. 

Most of us know at least someone in those numbers.

As the first and second waves pounded the country, leading to a rise in deaths, calls were made to government to begin its vaccination programme. Eventually after overcoming several challenges, including vaccine nationalism, the programme got underway with the goal of vaccinating 40 million South Africans. Five months later and government has opened up the programme to over 18s and up, but progress is still too slow. 

Just over 15% of people over the age of 18 have been fully vaccinated in South Africa. 

In this week's Friday Briefing, we examine what is holding people back from getting the jab, despite the third wave not letting up and concerns that a new variant has been discovered in South Africa.

Professor Ashraf Kagee from the department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University and Professor Mark Tomlinson from Stellenbosch University's Institute for Life Course Health Research look at what solutions government can put in place to counter vaccine hesitancy - such as providing better communication and easier access to vaccination sites.

NGO HealthEnable's executive director, Peter Benjamin writes that in order to lessen vaccine hesitancy, information needs to reach people around the country in the right language and format, while clinical psychologist Professor Sathasivian Cooper tells James de Villiers that vaccine hesitancy increases when well-known people express concerns about getting the jab. 

Professor George Claassen, an academic, News24's ombudsman and a professional sceptic, raises concerns about whether South Africans do any research as readers often write in and punt so-called experts who had already been thoroughly debunked by leading scientists.  

Lastly, Mikhail Moosa, who is project leader for the South African Reconciliation Barometer at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation analyses the impact public access to the vaccination sites has on people going to get their jab.

Hope you have a good weekend. 


Vanessa Banton 

Opinions Editor 

Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy: A complex problem

More needs to be done to counter Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Ashraf Kagee and Mark Tomlinson spell out what some of those reasons are.

Vaccine hesitancy: Don't discount mistrust in government and fear of being lied to

The target is to get at least 40 million people vaccinated against Covid-19 in South Africa to have population immunity, but there are various reasons why people aren't going to get jabbed. Peter Benjamin examines the issue of trust and the role high-profile people, like Dr Susan Vosloo, play in increasing vaccine hesitancy. 

'In SA, the discredited tells you to get vaccinated' - Clinical psychologist Sathasivian Cooper

Clinical psychologist Professor Sathasivian Cooper speaks to James de Villiers about the myriad reasons South Africans are hesitant to get vaccinated, and why conspiracy theories get spread. 

How a cult of ignorance endangers the fight against Covid-19

If the Covid pandemic has taught me and my fellow members of the international Organization of Newsombudsmen and Standards Editors (ONO) anything about the veracity of complaints about the pandemic, it is the serious lack of knowledge in society about how science works, writes George Claassen.

To improve vaccine uptake, take the vaccine to the people

Mikhail Moosa argues two recent surveys showed there is support for vaccination, but there needs to be an improved supply of Covid-19 vaccines to rural and township areas and a targeted approach to reaching older South Africans.

To receive the Friday Briefing, sign up for the newsletter here.

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