Formerly supply, SA’s vaccine struggle is lack of demand from hesitant citizens

Earlier in the year, South African’s were outraged at government’s glacial pace in procuring the Covid-19 vaccine. Now that the vaccine rollout has finally gained some steam, it seems that another vaccine-related issue has reared its head – a lack of demand. According to Nicholas Crisp, a deputy director-general in the Department of Health, an improvement has been seen in the over-60s age group. Interest from those aged 35-49 hasn’t been sustained, however. While an issue all over the world, vaccine hesitation is notable in South Africa – according to Bloomberg, 54% of SA’s said they are unlikely to get the inoculation, with many noting that they believe prayer provides “more protection than the shots.” Aside from that, there are a number of people with ever-growing concerns surrounding the vaccine. Often, this is related to vaccine side-effects, as well as mistrust in Big Pharma and government. – Jarryd Neves

South Africa’s vaccine headache switches to demand from supply

By Roxanne Henderson

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s biggest challenge to meeting a target of vaccinating two-thirds of the adult population against Covid-19 has shifted from a shortage of supply to a lack of demand.

“We are sitting in a situation where we don’t have a vaccine constraint, at least for the next two months,” Nicholas Crisp, a deputy director-general in the Department of Health, said in an online briefing on Friday. “Now we need vaccine demand.”

Africa’s most industrialised nation opened its rollout of Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson doses to those between 35 and 49 years old last month, yet interest from that age group has not been sustained, Crisp said. An improvement has been seen in the over-60s, he said, and the number of people fully vaccinated is set to pass 4 million, out of an adult population of about 40 million.

Vaccine hesitancy or outright opposition has been a barrier to ending the coronavirus pandemic all over the world, though may be a particular problem in South Africa. A survey found last month that about 54% of nationals say they are unlikely to get a Covid-19 vaccine and almost half say they believe prayer provides more protection than the shots.

One issue of concern in South Africa is a particular reluctance to be vaccinated among men, Crisp said. Almost 60% of those to have received a dose to date have been women.

“This is not good,” Crisp said. “It means that men are going to end up very sick and in hospital and we don’t want that to happen just prior to Christmas.”

South Africa has set a target to vaccinate 70% of its adult population by the end of the year. It will open the programme to roughly 17 million people aged 18 to 34 next month, Crisp said.

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