South Africans express mixed feelings about COVID-19 vaccine

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Some South Africans, among them healthcare workers, have mixed feelings about a COVID-19 vaccine. They say conflicting messages on social media, especially about the side effects of the vaccine, make them skeptical about its efficacy.

The country is due to receive its first batch of the vaccine this month.

Healthcare workers will be prioritised for the AstraZeneca jab:


Winky Mngqibisa, a nurse from Port Elizabeth, had contracted the virus. It was the hardest two weeks for the outreach nurse.

What started out as fatigue, due to what she thought was work stress, led to unbearable chest pains and shortness of breath. Mngqibisa drove herself to hospital, only to be told she had to wait for six hours in her car to see a doctor and to get a bed.

“I couldn’t breathe, though my sets were not that bad, but I couldn’t breathe and I could feel that I am losing a lot of energy and I was coughing a lot. I couldn’t do anything for myself. It was worse on the fifth day, I could feel that I am losing; I can die anytime.”

Now a survivor, she still sticks to her daily medicine.

Despite the challenges she faces as a frontline worker and the fear of contracting the virus again, Mnqibisa has raised questions about the vaccine.

“I think government before it does that, it needs to give us direction about this vaccine so that we understand the side effects; everybody not only the frontline workers.”

Discussion with Stavros Nicolaou on concerns over SA’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement:

A survey conducted by market research company, IPSOS, found that 64% of South Africans will get the vaccine when it is available.

Residents in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro are of two minds about this.

“I think I would wait a few months before I take the vaccine. If everything turns out well, I definitely would take it, but for the time and the way the world is right now with all the conflict in the US and especially in our country, I think I would wait a few months to see how everything plays,” says one resident.

“Although I don’t fully trust this vaccine, but because of my age and because we are a high risk, so I would take it. I am skeptical though because a lot is been said by doctors which we hear on the television. Some say it right, others say it’s not, some say it should be tested on the parliamentarians first, but I would take it because I don’t have a choice; I want to live long,” says another resident.

“I would take it because I don’t want to sit in a position where if COVID-19 would come into my house, then I’m like something bad happens; so I would take it,” says a resident.

Capacity to rollout vaccines

Premier Oscar Mabuyane has allayed fears that the Eastern Cape will not have the capacity to rollout mass vaccinations.

He has also cautioned against vaccine misinformation.

“There are people who are spreading false stories about the vaccine. Without any shed of knowledge about the vaccine, telling our people that they should not take the vaccine when it arrives. I think it’s about time that our law enforcement looks into such people because they pose a threat of our people. Our people should trust government as the only credible source about the vaccine and the process that will be followed to roll it out. We will ensure that our staff are trained to achieve rapid roll out of the vaccine. We will also work with stakeholders to ensure the rapid roll out of the vaccine programme to stop the risk of a third wave.”

The Health Department says over 67% of the population will be targeted in a phased roll-out. This will begin with healthcare workers, followed by the elderly and those with comorbidities.