Sixty-eight per cent of South Africa's Indian-origin population will definitely or probably take a COVID-19 vaccine, with 14 per cent saying they would probably or definitely not take it, while the rest 18 per cent were undecided, according to a study. Last week, South Africa's health regulatory body granted approval to the world's largest drug manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) to supply COVID-19 vaccine to the country.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has granted approval to the SII, which is producing the vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, to supply the drug to the country. The 68 per cent put the Indian community just one percentage point ahead of the average of 67 per cent across all South African communities who indicated that they would definitely or probably take a vaccine if available, according to the joint research study by the Centre for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).
Sixty-eight per cent of South Africa's Indian-origin population will definitely or probably take a COVID vaccine, with 14 per cent saying they would probably or definitely not take the vaccine, while 18 per cent were undecided, the study said. Attitudes to taking a COVID-19 vaccine vary by race. White adults were least accepting, with only 56 per cent willing or probably willing to be vaccinated. Comparable figures were 69 per cent for Black African adults, and 63 per cent for coloured adults, UJ said in a statement about the study.
Reasons cited by those who would accept the vaccine were mainly for protecting themselves or others, and often both. "It is excellent news that such a large and representative survey shows that 67 per cent now want to take the vaccine. The biggest challenge is to make sure that the majority get what they want, said Professor Kate Alexander from UJ.
The study showed that 8 per cent of all South African adults would definitely or probably not take a vaccine, while 15 per cent of adults did not know if they would. The most commonly cited reasons for non-acceptance (which included the 'don't know as well as those who said they would definitely or probably not take the vaccine), were about effectiveness, side effects and uncertainty about testing.
Many people said they needed more information, with only 10 per cent referring to conspiracy theories. "Our analysis shows that vaccine hesitancy comes down to a range of legitimate concerns about a vaccine developed and rolled-out in record time, as well as some distrust in the government and corporations.
We need a vaccine literacy campaign that provides factual information that will sway the waverers," said Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller from the HSRC. The health minister had earlier told the country's Parliament that the SII would supply a million doses of the vaccine to South Africa by the end of January and a further 500,000 in February, which would be used to vaccinate front line healthcare workers.
South Africa is battling a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 that is quickly outstripping its first peak. The number of cases in the country has reached 1,423,578 and 41,797 have died of the disease.