Millennials represent the future generation of South Africa. Why are some wary of the vaccine?
Vaccine inertia, you may have heard of it. It’s a term used to describe the hesitancy of some people to take the vaccine. There are a variety of reasons why some people are still not ready to take the vaccine.
Reasons range from worry about the side-effects of the vaccine to non-belief in the government and even people being influenced by fake social media posts.
According to a recent survey by Ask Afrika which has been running from 2020 to 2021, it revealed some key insights about the millennial generation.
Distress amongst the youth is highest in North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KZN. Many of these young people reported that they are afraid, depressed, hungry and worried about having no income.
The youth do feel that it is their responsibility to look after their health and not the responsibility of the government. Young people are most concerned about contracting Covid-19.
Millennials also feel more worried than older generations about returning to work when they have to. This could be one of the reasons why companies such as Discovery have made it mandatory for workers to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
According to the Ask Afrika survey, 77% of the youth fear physically returning to higher institutions of learning for fear of contracting the Coronavirus.
The UJ-HSRC Covid-19 Democracy Survey which ran up until 6 January 2021 revealed that young people are less inclined to take the vaccine than older people. Some people are still concerned about just how effective the vaccine is.
The recent Ask Afrika Covid-19 Tracker Study conducted in February 2021 revealed that people younger than 34 years old had more concerns about getting the vaccine than those over 35 years.¹
‘’We are a very young population up to the millennials. A third of our citizens are scared of Corona and are wary of the vaccine and side-effects,’’ said Andrea Rademeyer, CEO of Ask Afrika
According to these surveys, there also needs to be much more communication from trusted sources to encourage young people and other age groups to get vaccinated.
Freedom to adequate healthcare and the right to life is fundamental human rights and are protected by the Constitution of South Africa.
So has the government done enough to communicate adequate information about the vaccine?
‘’Our communication is focussed on supporting the biggest vaccination program of our country undertaken, we have activated national, provincial and local communication systems to take the prevention and vaccination message drive far and wide.” said Director-General of the Government Communication and Information System Phumla Williams
The latest Covid-19 statistics and vaccines administered. Sept. 22, 2021, | Department of Health
‘’We call on the over 18s to go and get their jab,’’ said Ms Phumla Williams
The government has also received praise on their communication from Professor Mosa Moshabela, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation (Acting), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
‘’It’s very exciting to see that GCIS is making strides in using research to inform the communications interventions that have to be put in place,’’ said Professor Mosa Moshabela
He also feels that the youth can be influenced to take the vaccine if the correct techniques are used.
‘’When we are dealing with vaccination you need to influence behaviour, to inform does not mean that people will understand, behaviour change is something that requires multiple stakeholders,’’ continued Professor Mosa Moshabela
So are millennials in Durban still sceptical to take the vaccine?
‘’I took the vaccine to protect myself from a deadly virus that could potentially take away my future. To all the people who are hesitant or scared to take the vaccine, I believe that enough people have been vaccinated to prove that the vaccine is safe and suitable for us to use.
The government has done its part in trying to encourage people to take the vaccine but their efforts can only go so far because people are quick to believe all the false posts on social media,’’ said Patrick Wainwright from Umbilo.
Chloe Mohammed from Addington Beach took the vaccine so that we can all have a safe environment where we don’t have to wear a mask. ‘’You only live once but you won’t live if you don’t take it,’’ said Mohammed.
Some are still hesitant to take the vaccine.
‘’My reason for not taking the vaccine, is because I don’t trust it. Sometimes the side-effects in itself can leave you bedridden for days, sometimes longer,’’ said Durban resident John Uys* (Not their real name. This person spoke on condition of anonymity to protect themselves from victimization).
The continent of Africa has only been able to vaccinate 50 million people or 3.6% of its people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set a target for 40% of the World population to be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
We all have acknowledged now that vaccines are the only solution for us to get out of this pandemic collectively. That has to be done quickly,’’ said Dr John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Director.
This Covid 19 awareness article was produced with the support of Journalists for Human Rights.
By Fred Felton