'I'll have the vaccine as soon as it's available to me': Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu recalled how TB robbed him of two years of his life and urged South Africans to get vaccinated as soon as Covid-19 vaccines were available to them.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu recalled how TB robbed him of two years of his life and urged South Africans to get vaccinated as soon as Covid-19 vaccines were available to them.
Image: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM

 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has vowed to be vaccinated against Covid-19 “as soon as one becomes available”.

In a statement the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation issued on Monday, Tutu said it was vital that people took the vaccine.

“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc. It has destroyed lives and livelihoods and it has robbed us of the comfort of family and friends, but we can stop it. We have vaccines. I join many other world leaders in pledging to have a vaccine against Covid-19 as soon as one becomes available to me.

“Vaccines have eradicated terrible diseases such as smallpox, and we are close to using them to make others, such as polio and measles, history. Yet many people are scared or wary of this simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against infectious diseases before they even come into contact with them. There is nothing to fear,” he said.

Tutu recounted how he contracted TB as a teenager in 1945.

“It robbed me of two years of my life as I underwent treatment in a TB hospital. I was lucky. I recovered. TB remains South Africa’s number-one cause of death, and in the more than 70 years since I underwent TB treatment, millions of South Africans, and millions more of their brothers and sisters across Africa and the world, have also lost their lives, to a disease that is preventable.

“In many countries, TB is no longer a threat. This includes large parts of Africa and South America. Its eradication is thanks to a combination of vaccines and effective treatment. We can do the same with Covid-19, and claim our lives back.

“I am pledging to have a Covid-19 vaccine, because I already know what it is to lose years of your life to a disease. I also know what it is to worry that I have passed a preventable disease on to people I love. I ask you to do the same.

“Don’t let Covid-19 continue to ravage our country, or our world. Vaccinate,” he said.

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