Scepticism in Bloemfontein after government halts vaccine rollout

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The latest development on the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country has seemingly fuelled confusion. Some residents of Bloemfontein are sceptical about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Health Department has temporarily put on hold the vaccine rollout for further clinical considerations.

Head of Department of Infectious Diseases at Helen Joseph Hospital, Dr. Jeremy Nel  says the decision was right: 

The halting of vaccine rollout has been received with mixed reactions from the residents of Bloemfontein.

Residents say uncertainty about the efficacy of the vaccine has created more doubt. They also say there should have been enough education about COVID-19 vaccines.

Some residents believe contradictory information on social media and other platforms is not making the situation easy. “I think the vaccine is quite important for a person to take it because if you don’t take it in the long run there might be some consequences,” says one resident.

Another resident adds, “I’m not going to take it because I don’t trust it at all, so I don’t see any reason why I should. It is not trustable; our government is not honest so how can we take it?”

Pastor Mohau Rammile, a COVID-19 survivor, has his own doubts. He was infected at a church gathering in Bloemfontein in March last year. The gathering made the Free State one of the COVID-19 hotspots at the beginning of the outbreak of the pandemic.

Rammile says more information on vaccines should be made available. “I’m not going to take the vaccine for two reasons, my medical reasons because if you take any vaccine you need to know how are you going to react because of it, are you hypersensitive to it? And two, I need to know its contents, if it will cause any side effects temporarily or permanently and what kind of side effects they are going to be. The third thing is the issue of liability that I think the government needs to cover.”

Free State Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) Chairperson, Thibogang Thole says the union has welcomed the temporary suspension of AstraZeneca roll out.

“Equally, we are disappointed though because the suspension has affected the rollout programme. We must also indicate that we are grateful that the challenges of AstraZeneca were discovered before it can be rolled out and thanks to the work done by our scientists. it is also important to mention that the suspension to some extent increased doubt among the nurses or the front-line workers about being vaccinated.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine that landed in SA from India last week is set to expire in April.