Wednesday, January 26

White adults are the most vaccine-averse South Africans, survey shows

Vaccine hesitancy is most pronounced among white adults in South Africa, which is struggling to keep immunization centers busy just three months after implementing its inoculation program, a survey showed.

Only 52% of white adults in the country are willing to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, compared to three-quarters of their black counterparts, researchers from the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Johannesburg said in the United States. Highlights of a report due to be released on Wednesday.


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“Side effects and concerns that the vaccine is ineffective are the most common self-reported explanations” for vaccinating vaccinations, and those concerns were particularly pronounced among white adults, the researchers said.

South Africa, which lagged behind many of its African and emerging market peers in launching vaccines, is finding a growing reluctance to take them. While the government and the private sector, with which it is working, have set daily targets of between 300,000 and 420,000 inoculations, they reached a peak of 271,838 last month and fell to 141,000 last week.

Reluctant youth

So far, 9.56 million injections have been administered in the country, meaning that 19% of adults have received at least one dose. Approximately 7.8% of the population is white.

The survey of 7,631 people was conducted between June 25 and July 12 and was the fourth conducted by the institutions. Overall, 72% of South Africans are willing to get vaccinated, up from 67% in the third round. The proportion of black respondents who were willing to receive an injection rose to 75%, from 69%, but among white adults it fell 4 percentage points, indicating that hesitancy is growing in that group.

While the proportion of people 55 and older who wanted to be vaccinated increased 11 percentage points between the third and fourth surveys to 85%, it fell by eight percentage points to only 55% among the Aged ages 18-24. Addressing skepticism among younger adults poses a challenge for the government, which plans to allow those under 35 to be vaccinated as of September 1.

Despite greater hesitancy among white South Africans, they were more likely to have been vaccinated than their black peers, which may be because a higher proportion of them have access to better, and often private, health care facilities. Religion had little impact on people’s attitudes toward vaccines, the survey showed.

The results of the survey differ from those announced last month by Afrobarometer, which polled 1,600 people. It found that 54% of South Africans are unlikely to get vaccinated and nearly half thought that prayer was a better defense against the coronavirus than an inoculation.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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