STEFANO MARANI: The biggest hurdle in SA’s vaccine rollout is still to come
An Afrobarometer survey found South Africans are deeply suspicious of Covid-19 vaccines, with nearly half of participants preferring prayer to the jab
Stefano MaraniA nurse vaccinates a teacher at the Rabasotho Community Centre in Tembisa, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/SEBABATSO MOSAMOAfter a slow start that left South Africans both anxious and irate, our Covid-19 vaccine rollout has gained momentum in the past two months. With vaccine administration now up to over 150,000 doses per day, we are finally getting shots into South African arms.
But the greatest challenge facing the vaccine rollout is still to come. Vaccine hesitancy is a growing problem. Last week’sAfrobarometer surveyfindings show that South Africans are deeply suspicious of Covid-19 vaccines, with nearly half of survey participants reckoning on prayer rather than the jab to protect them from the ravages of this highly contagious virus.
Almost every country with an advanced vaccine rollout programme has experienced the flattening of an initially enthusiastic vaccine take-up curve. After an initial surge in vaccination numbers, rollout programmes tend to hit a ceiling, plateauing even though there are vaccines available and healthcare workers to administer them. headtopics.com
The US took just over two months to administer 58-million vaccines — equivalent to SA's population — and by the end of April, just over four months into their rollout, 144-million people (44% of the population) had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and over 100-million (31%) were fully vaccinated, at a rate often exceeding 1.5-million doses a day.
But since then the US rollout has gone cold. In the past month the average number of daily doses administered has been about 270,000, just a fifth of the rate initially achieved. Similar plateaus have occurred in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada.
The reason for this is the resistance of eligible individuals to receiving a vaccine, termed “vaccine hesitancy” by epidemiologists. The “5C model” has been developed by researchers to explain why it occurs. A lack of confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, coupled with complacency due to a perception that the risk of illness is low and vaccination is not necessary, are common reasons.
Constraints, including structural or psychological barriers like the inconvenience of being vaccinated and the fear of injections, are also prevalent. The vaccine hesitant also tend to calculate that their risk from vaccination outweighs the risk of infection and disease. Finally there is the absence of feeling a sense of collective responsibility (an individual's willingness to protect others in the community through their own vaccination). headtopics.com
South Africans have already exhibited high rates of vaccine hesitancy, with a much slower rate of turnout being seen than was initially anticipated. The Afrobarometer findings showed that more than 54% of South Africans consider themselves unlikely to try to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Just 28% of respondents said they trust the government to ensure vaccines are safe.
The study suggests that the determinants of vaccine hesitancy — especially a lack of confidence and high complacency, and therefore an unfavourable risk calculation — are already at play. Many of these concerns are exacerbated by misinformation and alarmist anecdotes about vaccine side-effects circulated on social media.
We can’t wish every component of vaccine hesitancy away, but we can and should focus on minimising structural constraints to vaccination — and ensuring that the jabs that are administered are effective.One of the most important of these constraints is the inconvenience faced by people living in rural areas in accessing vaccine sites, since they often incur high transport costs to reach clinics. While registrations for vaccines among people in rural areas are relatively high, it remains to be seen whether logistical challenges to rural vaccination will be surmountable and safe, accessible, and reliable sites are provided in remote areas.
Another key component is safety and efficacy, which influence confidence. Once Pfizer vaccines arrive in Johannesburg from overseas they are transferred to provincial distribution centres in thermal shipping boxes designed to keep the vaccines at the required —70°C using dry ice. It is critical that the dry ice is replaced every five days — something that can go wrong as a result of dry ice supply issues or, more commonly, when someone forgets to do maintenance. headtopics.com
After the vaccines are transported to the vaccination sites, the vaccines are transferred to an ordinary fridge, in which they can be stored for up to five days. But if the cold chain is broken at any point from arrival to administration the vaccines become ineffective.
The good news is that SA engineers and scientists are no strangers to solving complex problems. For example, a locally-hatched mobile cooling solution has been developed for the transportation and storage of vaccines that eliminates reliance on dry ice. Cryo-Vacc, as it is called, replaces the rudimentary dry-ice cooler-box system and relies on liquid nitrogen and long-life batteries, with a sophisticated and instant remote temperature monitoring system. Cryo-Vacc has longer storage periods, is unaffected by load-shedding, and minimises the risk of human error.
The device records any break in the cold chain through its monitoring system, which is publicly accessible through a mobile app. This means every patient can request the lot number of the vaccine they received, and use it to find out whether their vaccine was correctly transported and stored. This increases confidence, a key determinant of vaccine hesitancy.
While cold chain management is just one — though very crucial — part of ensuring a safe and effective rollout, it is clear that the talent and ingenuity exists in SA to ensure that we do everything we can to stave off vaccine hesitancy and inspire public confidence in the process. Government, if it is prudent, will ensure that it relies on this expertise as much as possible.Read more: Business Day »
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Government to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination driveThe Health Department says low stock levels have hindered the vaccine rollout but it hopes to ramp up the drive next week. How many times does one ramp up the Covid-19 vaccination drive? They are gonna go house to house now 🤦♂️ They need to kill more people
WATCH: 2.8 million doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine arrive in SAReceiving the 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday, acting Health Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi thanked the American government and President Joe Biden for the donation. VaccineRolloutSA Covid19 Pfizer Vaccine Investing today will save you the stress of financial crisis tomorrow.. Live the kind of life you want today by investing and trading Bitcoin option. Trade with a professional trader and start making good profits today. lisaCammpbell for transparency and trust. 🤮😡😭 Excellent news
WATCH: 2.8 million doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine arrive in SAICYMI: Receiving the 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday, acting Health Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi thanked the American government and President Joe Biden for the donation. VaccineRolloutSA Covid19 Pfizer Vaccine 'America is generous' ...said no one ever. 😑 one way or another we are paying for these vaccines J&J or any 1 dose .... They refused 30 million Sputnik doses at the behest of the USA, now they are grovelling at their feet for a mere 2.8 million. This country is led by first class idiots. 😂😂😂
7.5-million vaccines administered in SA as hesitancy declines, pace picks upGetting the Covid-19 vaccination is a patriotic duty to safeguard the health of the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday when he announced SA has passed the 7.5-million mark for the number of administered jabs. Insane. The vaccine is a weapon. Don’t be fooled.
Rights commission treads fine line on Covid vaccineAs the government accelerates its vaccine rollout and industries prepare for a possible return to work, a growing number of employers and employees have approached the SA Human Rights Commission to seek counsel on how resolve an impasse over those who refuse take the jab. AnElectricLady LindileSifile I saw several people testifying of making so much money with the help of shantelll_142 on Bitcoin option trade and I decided to give a try and now I'm glad now she helped me and my colleagues to make R40,000 in one week, thank you for transparency and trust. AnElectricLady LindileSifile In times like this where things will be very difficult I’ll advise people invest in $stocks or binary with Lisaberry1426 so the economic decisions will not affect your finances. She's a good woman and I have not had any problems investing with Lisaberry1426 early this year AnElectricLady LindileSifile Words alone won’t express how thankful I’m recommending you all to you shantelll_142 .....,investing with you has been a good opportunity for me and my family I just received my profit of R30,500 within five days of investment shantelll_142
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