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'Black Africans more willing to accept a vaccine than whites’ — UJ/HSRC survey

The Centre for Social Change (CSC) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in partnership with the developmental, capable and ethical state (DCES) research division of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) have released a research briefing on the public's willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine and reasons for their decision.

Findings show that:
67% of adults would definitely or probably take a vaccine if it available.
18% of adults would definitely or probably not take a vaccine.
15% of adults did not know.

These findings come from the latest round of the UJ/HSRC COVID-19 Democracy Survey, undertaken between 29 December 2020 and 6 January 2021. It was conducted online using social media adverts to direct potential participants to the survey and #datafree through biNu's Moya Messenger app. It was completed by 10,618 participants. Findings were weighted by race, education and age, and are broadly representative of the population at large. The questionnaire was available in the country's six most widely spoken languages.

The briefing demonstrates that race, education and age play a role in shaping vaccine acceptance – 69% of Black African adults would definitely or probably take the vaccine (that is, 'acceptance'), compared with 55% of white adults. Acceptance among adults with less than matric-level education was 72%, compared with 59% for those with tertiary education.

Acceptance was 63% among adults aged 18-24, and 74% for those aged 55 and older.

Politics is also important, the study found. In terms of voting intention, acceptance was as follows. ANC: 78%, DA: 65%, EFF: 62%, other parties: 67%. Among those who did not intend to vote, acceptance was much lower, only 48%.

Among those who thought the President was doing a good or very good job in handling the COVID-19 outbreak, acceptance was 73%, but among those who thought, he was doing a bad or very bad job, it was only 36%.

People were also asked: 'please explain your answer'. Approximately 6000 respondents provided responses to this open-ended question. Analysis is based on coding a random sample of 1,800 responses.

The main findings are these:
Among acceptances, most people spoke about protecting themselves or others, and often both.

The most commonly cited reasons for non-acceptance (which included the “don't knows” as well as those who said they would definitely or probably not take the vaccine), the most commonly cited justifications were about effectiveness, side effects and uncertainty about testing. Many people said they needed more information. Only 10% referred to conspiracy theories.

Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller from the HSRC said: "Our analysis shows that vaccine hesitancy comes down to a range of legitimate concerns about a vaccine developed and rolled-out in record time, as well as some distrust in the government and corporations. We need a vaccine literacy campaign that provides factual information that will sway the waverers."

Professor Kate Alexander from UJ said: "It is excellent news that such a large and representative survey shows that 67% now want to take the vaccine. The biggest challenge is to make sure that the majority get what they want."


The UJ study findings were made public on Wednesday of last week – coinciding with the first administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines which were given to some of the country’s health-care workers and high-ranking government officials including President Cyril Ramaphosa.


“It seems that many healthcare workers, elderly people or anyone with high levels of exposure or risk of complications are ready for the vaccine”, Dr Marelize Caminsky is quoted in Al Jazeera as saying. Caminsky, a health practitioner and lecturer in the department of complementary medicine at UJ, who has been working in a local community clinic in a low-income neighbourhood since last year.

“But some people are not convinced of the safety or efficacy of this option.”

She has learned that one of the most important interventions for those who are hesitant about vaccines is education.


KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says some health workers have refused to be vaccinated, but The Times reports she added, they won't be forced to do so. "The president and the minister have always indicated that no-one is going to be forced to vaccinate. But we are all required and requested to vaccinate so that we are able to reach that herd immunity percentage that is needed."

Simelane said in instances where health workers were reluctant, they were sometimes counselled to help allay fears.

She appealed for people to take the vaccine. "The only way we can have herd immunity is if more than 70% of our population is vaccinated."

Professor Barry Schoub, chair of the vaccine ministerial advisory committee, is quoted in The Times as saying that health workers’ doubts were reasonable. "Once everything is communicated to them, chances are they will change their minds. This hesitancy shows that we need more education and more communication about the new vaccine before conspiracy theories get out of hand."


[link url=",UJ%2F%20HSRC%20survey%20shows%20that%20two%2Dthirds%20of%20adults%20are,take%20the%20Covid%2D19%20vaccine&text=67%25%20of%20adults%20would%20definitely,of%20adults%20did%20not%20know."]University of Johannesburg material[/link]


[link url=",-who-doesn%E2%80%99t,-and-why-Findings-and-analysis-from-the-UJHSRC-COVID-Democracy-Survey.aspx"]Seminar[/link]


[link url=""]Facebook video[/link]


[link url=""]Full Al Jazeera report (Open access)[/link]


[link url=""]Full report in The Times (Open access)[/link]

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