‘Why should I vaccinate if it won’t prevent death?’ - Here's why some are so hesitant to get the jab

Johannesburg based general practitioner Dr Hillary Mukudu says vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19 denialism are not uncommon.

07 September 2021 - 10:02
Deaths perceived to be caused by the vaccine are one of the reasons some people are hesitant to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Stock photo.
Deaths perceived to be caused by the vaccine are one of the reasons some people are hesitant to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Stock photo.
Image: 123rf/anyaivanova

Doubts about the effectiveness of the Pfizer and J&J vaccines against Covid-19 and vaccine-related “deaths” are some of the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy.

Ross and Aphiwe, not their real names, told TimesLIVE while they are not anti-vaxxers, they are hesitant to get the jab because they are not fully convinced about its benefits. 

“SA has a population of 60-million. If I have to be the last person to take the vaccine, I will wait. At least there will be enough people vaccinated before me to know if this thing works or not,” said Aphiwe.

For Ross, stories shared on social media by people who have received the vaccine, have only fuelled his hesitancy against it. 

“I have read several testimonials on social media from people who say they have family members who either fell sick or died after getting vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Ross. 

The government continues to intensify its fight against Covid-19 and has administered over 13.6-million Pfizer and J&J jabs as of Monday, according to figures from the national health department. 

Its efforts, however, are being met with hesitancy from some citizens and health professionals. 

I have read several testimonials on social media from people who say they have family members who either fell sick or died after getting vaccinated against Covid-19
Ross 

Among these is prominent surgeon Susan Vosloo who was recently caught on video saying “the risk of the vaccination is worse than the risk of the virus” and “the vaccination was not brought in for Covid-19" but that “Covid-19 was brought in for the vaccination”, reported Vrye Weekblad

Her remarks have since been rejected by the SA Medical Association (SAMA), which has assured the public about the safety of the vaccines.

“There is high confidence among the scientific and medical community about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines being rolled out in SA, and they have also undergone safety and efficacy tests by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority,” Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of SAMA, said in a statement. 

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Johannesburg based general practitioner Dr Hillary Mukudu said vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19 denialism were not uncommon among individuals and health professionals. 

“Unfortunately, there is a medical doctor I know personally who doesn't believe there is a pandemic and who say it's a hoax,” he said. 

Jab incentives are problematic

Ross also cited the “subtle pressure” from the government to incentivise vaccinations as another reason he is hesitant to get jabbed. 

“Constitutionally, I have the right to either consent to or decline getting vaccinated but I fear the government might introduce regulations that could end up forcing us to get vaccinated.”

Vaccination in SA is not mandatory but Ross says continued talks about rewarding people for getting vaccinated might put unnecessary pressure on those who are vaccine hesitant. 

Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba told Jacaranda FM two weeks ago that the provincial government would support the alcohol industry if it refused to sell alcohol to unvaccinated individuals. 

“If Limpopo implements this, it's very likely the whole country will follow suit. If the vaccine is good for us, why is there talk about incentives?” Ross asked. 

Mukudu said there is nothing wrong with offering incentives if it helps get people vaccinated. 

“The incentives are being considered for the very reason of vaccine hesitancy. They don't want people to be cornered and they don't want the vaccine to become mandatory,” he said. 

Vaccines don't prevent death

Aphiwe said though she is scared of contracting Covid-19 and getting sick, she is better off unvaccinated as she is equally at risk with those who are vaccinated.

“You get the vaccine, you die. You don't get the vaccine, you still die. Why am I getting vaccinated in the first place then?” she asked. 

Mukudu said one of the main benefits of the vaccine is that it significantly reduces the chances of death and severity of symptoms in case of infection.

On August 20, the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), a body tasked with the approval of health products in SA, released a report on the outcome of its investigations into adverse events that occurred after vaccination. 

Of the 32 cases that have been concluded, the regulator found that 28 of the deaths were not linked to vaccination while four of these were unclassifiable due to outstanding information. 

For Ross, the outcomes of the report were still not enough assurance. He said the media and government would not announce if the deaths were linked to the vaccine in fear of fuelling hesitancy around the vaccine. 

“The Sahpra would not disclose if the deaths are linked to the vaccine because their main goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible,” he said. 

Mukudu said deaths that occur after people have been vaccinated are often wrongly attributed to the vaccine rather than the disease. 

“If there was any medication that leads to an unexplained death, no scientist or authority would approve that. A vaccine that leads to the death of someone would not be approved. These people likely died of Covid-19 because the vaccine takes up to two weeks for it to be effective,” he said. 


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