Governments from developing countries will never win the battle against COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy unless they invest adequately in strategic partnerships with local community leaders, opinion makers and spiritual organisations.
This is according to a study by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Knowledge.
The study suggests that growing vaccine hesitancy in Africa is highly influenced by religious and cultural beliefs where most communities have little and no trust in government.
Delivering her presentation on a webinar aimed at looking at the critical perspective on vaccine hesitancy, Dr Mayashree Chinsamy says government needs to work harder to reach out to these communities.
“Available medical communication and information on vaccines tend to be shared in digital spaces and formats that are mostly in foreign languages, further marginalizing and alienating our communities and social groups who have little or no access. Lastly, most governments especially in developing countries have not managed to adequately invest in strategic relationships and partnerships with our community leaders, our community opinion makers, like our spiritual organisations. Governments have tended to be in partnership mode pharmaceutical companies with whom our local communities have little or no relationship or connection to.”
Lack of information
Psychologists say vaccine hesitancy stems from several factors including a lack of information.
Over 36 million South Africans have taken COVID-19 vaccines so far.
Psychologist Lerato Motsalane-Wana says more needs to be done to address vaccine hesitancy in the country.
“I am of the opinion that people’s reluctancy or hesitancy to vaccinate is actually valid when viewed from their perspective or context. When you got no knowledge of vaccination, it’s going to sound like a crazy idea. The hesitancy or reluctance may not only stem from limited information but also from an understanding of that information. Once we have that information, do we trust the person who is giving it to us? Do we trust the actual information?”
In the video below, South Africans shared their reasons for vaccine hesitancy and why they are taking the vaccine:
-Additional reporting by SABC News