South Africans who continue to ignore the COVID-19 vaccine have been warned to brace themselves for the worst. This emerged during a webinar debate ahead of the Vooma Vaccination weekend campaign, in a bid to mitigate vaccine hesitancy and encourage the uptake of the vaccine.

Over 13 million people have been fully vaccinated and four million others have received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Experts predict the country might experience the 4th Wave of the pandemic towards the end of December and the beginning of January.

About 90 000 people have succumbed to the pandemic since March last year.

Health expert Dr David Harrison has warned South Africans about the importance of taking COVID vaccine before the start of the 4th Wave.

“We can crash the power of the 4th Wave if in fact we can get to vaccinate all the people who may get to be admitted to hospital and die. And if we can do that there’s going to be far less grief and grieving in our country. And that’s gonna be far less rational for closing up our economy. So, that should be our priority,” says Harrison.

COVID-19 Pandemic | Mitigating vaccine hesitancy in South Africa – webinar

Traditional leaders are urged to play their role to encourage rural communities to vaccinate in order to help minimize the spread of the virus. Chief of the Matsila Tribe in Limpopo, Livhuwani Matsila has urged communities to get vaccinated to protect themselves against COVID-19. He says there’s nothing to fear for, as vaccination is not a new thing.

“So, this is really a continuation. This is just a vaccination against all sorts of fevers. Because if you go overseas it is also mandatory. Those are the issues that we need to be talking about. Assuring people that there’s nothing to be worried about with this vaccination program. It’s one of the many programs that are there to protect human lives. And the issue is that of ‘compulsory’, whether it will be introduced or and what will be our views around it,” says Matsila.

Head of Moral Regeneration Movement, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa has warned against persistent ignorance and misleading information about the pandemic. He says these are some of the contributory factors discouraging people from taking the vaccine.

“The ignorance that surrounds COVID-19, as you can expect obviously; one, lots of people are afraid. And they also heard very negative stories about the effects of the injection against COVID-19 and so on. So, one of the important things we need to intensify is really to fight ignorance and those effective ways of doing so are to ensure that we communicate as effectively as possible,” says Mkhatshwa.

The Vooma Vaccination Campaign is aimed at getting over 400 000 people vaccinated every weekend. Over 200 vaccine sites will be accessible for members of the public who wish to vaccinate across the country.