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Afrikaans-speaking families and youth most sceptical of Covid-19 vaccines

New study finds over 60s less hesitant to get the jab

12 May 2021 - 14:05 By kgaugelo masweneng
Younger people and those who relied on social media for information were less inclined to opt for a vaccine. File photo.
Younger people and those who relied on social media for information were less inclined to opt for a vaccine. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Sasirin Pamai

A high percentage of people in SA who identified Afrikaans as their home language are hesitant to get a Covid-19 vaccination, a new study tracking trends during the pandemic has found. 

The National Income Dynamics Study — Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (Nids-Cram) was released on Wednesday, looking at vaccines, schools, hunger, employment, and other  categories.

Overall, the study found that 71% of adults in the country would be willing to get a vaccination. SA's national vaccine rollout starts on Monday.

“Our estimate is the highest estimate of vaccine intention for adults in SA to date. [About] 42% of Afrikaans home language respondents were vaccine-hesitant, much higher than the national average ... and significantly higher than seven of the 11 language groups,” it found.

“The lowest hesitancy rates were found among Tshivenda, 18%, and isiNdebele, 19%, respondents, as well as isiXhosa, isiZulu, and Sepedi respondents, all 25%. While many of these language groups have overlapping confidence intervals [that is their estimates are not statistically significantly different], the difference between Sesotho, 35%, and five language groups is also significant.”

The report said the 71% willingness figure was made up of two groups: the 55% choosing “strongly agree” and the 16% selecting “somewhat agree”.

“Among the 29% who did not agree, 16% strongly disagreed, 8% somewhat disagreed, and just fewer than 6% of adults reported that they do not know if they would accept a vaccination.

Relative to other countries, vaccine acceptance in SA was higher than recent estimates from the US and France, but lower than China, Brazil and the UK.

“The youth and those with only a primary school education were more likely to be vaccine-hesitant. On the other hand, those who exhibit high mortality risk — those over 60 and those who have a chronic condition [HIV, TB, lung condition, heart condition or diabetes] — are less likely to be vaccine-hesitant. Note that after controlling for income, education, and other variables, race is not a significant predictor of vaccine hesitancy,” said the report.

Those most at risk of Covid-19 [those with chronic conditions and the elderly] were more willing than the general population to accept a vaccine. The youth [18-25] and those who trust social media as an information source were more likely to be vaccine-hesitant.

Among the 29% of respondents who were vaccine-hesitant, the three leading reasons for their hesitancy were that they were worried about the side effects (31%); did not believe it was effective (21%); or did not trust vaccines in general (18%).

“Importantly, only 8% of those exhibiting vaccine hesitancy attributed their hesitancy to a low perceived risk of getting Covid-19,” the study found.

The survey was based on information gathered between February and March.