Vaccine acceptance rises from 71% to 76%, national survey finds

Jab jitters diminish but registration numbers don't quite match enthusiasm

08 July 2021 - 16:24 By Tanya Farber
A nurse talks to a freshly vaccinated man at Munsieville Care for the Aged Centre outside Johannesburg. File image.
A nurse talks to a freshly vaccinated man at Munsieville Care for the Aged Centre outside Johannesburg. File image.
Image: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

South Africans’ willingness to have a Covid-19 vaccine increased from 71% in February-March to 76% in April-May.

This is according to data released on Thursday by the National Income Dynamics Study — Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (Nids-Cram).

Seven-thousand South Africans taking part in the survey are contacted every few months to answer questions about income and employment, household welfare, grants, and  knowledge and behaviour related to Covid-19.

Five waves of the survey were planned for 2020-2021, and the results of the fifth wave were presented in a webinar hosted by Nic Spaull, a Stellenbosch University researcher who is on the steering committee.

The interviewers conducted their work in all 11 official languages, and for the vaccine chapter they relied on a scale that showed how strongly accepting or not South Africans are of the jab.

They said there has been a “discernible shift towards vaccine acceptance, with 47% of those who ‘disagreed strongly’, ‘somewhat disagreed’ or ‘did not know’, subsequently changing their minds”.

“This provides encouragement for interventions aiming to improve vaccine intentions,” they said, adding that it shows “vaccine acceptance may be becoming a social norm”.

However, a substantial proportion of South Africans are still not convinced and a small share “may not be convincible at all". They are the one in 15 who “disagreed strongly” in both periods (February-March and April-May).

But even as South Africans express higher levels of acceptance, this has not translated into registrations at the same level in over-60s.

While acceptance is at 76%, registration nationally is only at 55%, with Limpopo the only province where the two numbers correlate.

This is thanks to face-to-face engagement with community health workers and local leaders playing a large role in conveying the science and safety of vaccines.

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