Health minister Joe Phaahla concerned about men's reluctance to vaccinate

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
Community members from Mbuzini getting vaccinated
Community members from Mbuzini getting vaccinated
Image: Mandla Khoza

 

Health minister Joe Phaahla says men took a back seat when SA was battling HIV and they are doing the same in the middle of the pandemic.

Phaahla was in Mpumalanga to oversee the vaccination programme where he raised concerns about the low rate at which men where going out to get vaccinated against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

“There’s a concern among men coming forward. This seems to be a trend amongst men not coming forward for their health. You will remember during the [early days of] HIV/Aids testing, men were lagging behind and even now on Covid-19 we are seeing the trend where men don’t come forward to vaccinate,” Phaahla said.

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“But we are trying to come up with ways to get to where men are, which is  workplaces and also men’s forums to send a message that they too need to take charge of their health and vaccinate.”

He said there was a need to discard misinformation about vaccines

“We would like to also state that since we started with the vaccines to health workers, we are seeing a positive light in those vaccinated and getting infected. Their symptoms are mild and they don’t get to ICU [intensive care unit].

“We can say that if there’s 100 people in hospital, about 90 of them are people who have not vaccinated, which means those who vaccinated have got a better chance of not being  severely ill,” said Phaahla.

Phala who was accompanied by  premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane and health MEC Sasekani Manzini and started  at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela, Malelane Clinic and ended up at Mbuzini, both near Komatipoort. 

Mpumalanga  has vaccinated 480,541 people, which is 15.7% of the province’s population. 

At least 59.3% of the province's population of people aged 60 and above have been vaccinated with the number stranding at 225,124. 

Among those aged 50 to 59 vaccinations stood at 73,262  79,605.

Mtshweni-Tsipane said they were concerned about people not adhering to lockdown regulations by not wearing masks and attending events. 

“This area of Nkomazi municipality is our concern because it’s bordering the kingdom of Eswatini and Mozambique but the people’s response when we come to them is encouraging.

“We are calling for people to at least help us win this war by adhering to the existing lockdown regulation, which means they must not hold events, wear their masks and come vaccinate.”

Community members came out in numbers to get vaccinated in Mbuzini. 

I’m happy that eventually they  [vaccinators] came here. I was not getting vaccinated because it [the site] was far from our area. I have taken my jab and I will encourage other young people to come forward,” said Christopher Mahlalela. 

Jeremiah Mahlalela, 46, said: “Most of the time we men don’t come forward to vaccinate or care about our health.  I also believe that government should come  to people and talk to them [about how the vaccine works] because there are liars out here.” 

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