You are here: Covid-19
By Andrea Rademeyer – CEO & Founder of Ask Afrika
South Africans are torn with regards to whether or not they get vaccinated against Covid-19. According to the Ask Afrika Covid-19 Tracker study, just over half of respondents (52%) said they planned to get vaccinated when the vaccine roll-out programme reaches them. This is a concern given that the country needs to vaccinate two-thirds of the population – or around 40 million people – if it is to achieve so-called herd or community immunity.
The study found that 19% of respondents said they did not plan to get vaccinated and 28% said they were unsure whether they would get vaccinated. Of this latter figure, significantly more females than males said they were unsure of whether they would get vaccinated.
Concern around the vaccine is relatively high with 53% of respondents saying they had concerns. Of this figure, those older than 35 years had significantly less concern about getting vaccinated than those younger than 34 years.
The majority of South Africans are divided on the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines with only 47% of respondents saying they had trust in the vaccines. The South African government’s reversal on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine significantly dented trust in the vaccine programme as a whole.
Not surprisingly, the study found that vaccine safety was the biggest priority (44%), followed by just 22% who said that vaccine efficacy was a priority.
The study has revealed clear gender differences as far as perceptions of the vaccines are concerned. There is a significantly higher sense of distrust among males than females (39% compared to 26%) with 45% of men saying they will not get vaccinated while 38% say they are unsure about whether or not to get vaccinated and 60% say they are concerned about getting vaccinated.
Despite the fact that men have higher levels of distrust around the safety of the vaccine, 20% of women who trust the safety of the vaccine are unsure of whether they will be vaccinated or not. Of those women who don’t trust the safety of the vaccine, 60% say they will not get vaccinated, 38% are unsure whether they will get vaccinated and 72% are concerned about getting vaccinated.
Amongst the male respondents who trust the safety of the vaccine, the speed of delivery to South Africa becomes more important while efficacy is more important for females who trust the safety of the vaccine.
Given the debate around how the vaccines will be funded, of particular interest is the fact that nearly 75% of taxpayers surveyed for this study said they did not want to pay more tax to fund the vaccines. Interestingly, Black respondents were significantly more willing to pay more tax to fund vaccines than White respondents.
Just under half of all respondents said they are willing to pay for the vaccines themselves with the White population more willing to pay for their own vaccines than the Black population. Of those willing to pay for their own vaccines, the average price respondents were prepared to pay was R251 per vaccine. This is more than twice as much as would be necessary.
If the vaccine costs less than R200, 70% of those with a domestic worker or gardener said they would be willing to fund their vaccine.
The majority of respondents (84%) believe that the entire African continent should unite in their fight against the virus, while 78% of respondents said South Africa should develop its own vaccine rather than having to rely on global powers for assistance. A total of 63% of respondents were concerned that the USA had bought all the experimental COVID-19 vaccine stock.
This is the first time that Ask Afrika has included the issue of vaccines in its Covid-19 Tracker study, a pro-bono study which the company has been conducting since the first week of April 2020 in order to better understand the socio-economic impact that the coronavirus, lockdown and gradual re-opening of the economy has on South Africans.
“This brief dipstick into vaccines, which we conducted last week, paints a complex picture of attitudes and perceptions with regards to the Covid-19 vaccine,” says Ask Afrika CEO Andrea Rademeyer. “Ideally this needs proper interrogation and funding. Based on our previous research into HIV Aids, it is clear that knowledge does not drive acceptance. Ideally we need to create a social narrative around the idea that having the vaccine is the right thing to do if we care for our family and friends.”
Rademeyer says she is particularly concerned about the eight to 13% of South Africans who refuse to buy into the Covid narrative. “This is a large enough number of potential super spreaders to potentially drive a new wave of mutations,” she says.
She adds that even though this study was conducted on a relatively small sample size – a representative sample of the general population consisting of 403 respondents – it indicates how urgently South Africa needs a quantified behavioural model of super spreaders and vaccines beliefs.