Many aren't pitching for jab as the virus got them at the eleventh hour
Herd immunity is under threat as the country’s vaccine rollout seeks a firmer footing amid about 160,000 active cases in the third wave.
Experts say multiple factors are standing in the way of getting shots into arms, and included in those are infections among those who were meant to arrive for a jab, as well as those who simply don't want to get one.
According to Jackie Maiman, head of the Independent Community Pharmacy Association, Gauteng in particular had seen a “significant drop in numbers of vaccines”.
A small survey was done in which booked vaccinees who hadn’t arrived were called to find out why.
“Nineteen percent of those contacted indicated they either had Covid-19 infection, or had symptoms relating to it, which is quite worrying,” Maiman told TimesLIVE.
She added that 9% indicated that they’d “changed their mind” about getting vaccinated.
According to Sara Cooper from the South African Medical Research Council, “Supply-side factors related to vaccine availability, infrastructure and accessibility all pose significant challenges to optimal uptake in SA. Vaccine hesitancy — which involves varying levels of doubt, indecision, uncertainty or mistrust about vaccination — is an additional challenge.”
It not only poses risks to the individual but the wider community too, according to Cooper and colleagues in the South African Medical Journal.
Delays and refusals to get vaccinated “could mean that the country is unable to reach the thresholds of vaccine uptake necessary for herd immunity”.
Dr Keith Cloete, head of health in the Western Cape, says data shows how the vaccines are a game-changer.
In April this year, there were 44 new infections among health workers in the province, and although it went up to 102 in May, it was still a fraction of the more than 400 recorded in November last year before the Sisonke study and trial.
“This shows a clear message for anyone who is hesitant: vaccines work,” he said, adding that even those with breakthrough infections were not ending up in hospital or dead.