By mid December, 47% of South Africans said they'd refuse a coronavirus jab – up sharply from Oct

Business Insider SA

Covid-19 vaccine South Africa
(Getty Images)
  • South Africa is split down the middle when it comes to accepting a coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest Ipsos survey.
  • Almost half of all South African respondents said they would not take the jab, with more people strongly opposed to, rather than strongly for, inoculation against Covid-19.
  • Concerns around the vaccine’s side effects, efficacy and “being against vaccines in general” are primary concerns among those rejecting the shot.
  • South Africa’s levels of vaccine mistrust, which have grown by 15 percentage points since October, are outpacing the global average.
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South Africa plans to vaccinate 67% of the population – some 38 million citizens – against the coronavirus before the end of 2021. But the latest global survey shows that only 53% of South Africans would gladly accept the Covid-19 jab as of mid-December.

Like the virus itself, perceptions around the pandemic, containment measures and, ultimately, the administering of a vaccine are constantly evolving.

But South Africa is lagging far behind the global curve, not only in the acquisition of vaccines that can prevent Covid-19, but also in perceptions around the effectiveness and safety of immunisations. These shifting attitudes have been detailed by global market researchers, Ipsos, as part of a survey series conducted for the World Economic Forum.

See also | SA may have been offered a 30% discount on the Pfizer vaccine – but that’s still expensive

The latest survey, conducted in mid-December, shows that South Africa’s willingness to accept a Covid-19 vaccine was eroding up to mid-December.

While this gradual trend is recognised as a global phenomenon, South Africans are, according to the Ipsos poll, far below the global average of persons who would accept the Covid-19 vaccine. Out of 15 countries surveyed in December, an average of 65% of respondents said they were ready to accept a Covid-19 vaccine.

Covid-19 vaccine South Africa
Global attitudes on a Covid-19 vaccine (Ipsos)

In South Africa, only 53% of respondents said they would take the jab. This level of vaccine mistrust is only beaten by respondents in Russia (43%) and France (40%).

The Ipsos survey, which has been extended to more than 50,000 participants since July, also shows a higher degree of degradation in South Africans’ confidence about the development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

In October, 68% of South African respondents said they would accept a Covid-19 vaccine of it were offered. The change in perceptions – with willing participants dropping by 15 percentage points in December – is the biggest swing recorded in the global survey.

While the survey demonstrates clear division in public opinion regarding vaccines, it also exposes extreme polarisation in South Africa. Most South Africans either strongly agree or strongly disagree with the getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Those who adopt a more considered approach, either somewhat agreeing or somewhat disagreeing, are in the minority.

Additionally, 26% of all South African respondents are strongly opposed to taking the Covid-19 vaccine, while 25% are determined to get the jab as soon as possible.

Covid-19 vaccine South Africa
Global attitudes on a Covid-19 vaccine (Ipsos)

Of the 47% of South African respondents who said they would refuse a Covid-19 vaccine, 65% cited concern surrounding the treatment’s potential side effects. This worry is, by far, the most commonly mentioned cause for vaccine refusal on a global scale.

See also | Countries with better vaccine plans than SA now include Morocco, Panama and Lebanon

But South Africans cite “being against vaccines in general” as a reason to resist inoculation more than any other country surveyed, bar respondents in Russia. Additionally, a quarter of South African respondents said they wouldn’t take the vaccine because they thought “it would be ineffective” in preventing coronavirus infection.

Covid-19 vaccine South Africa
Global attitudes on a Covid-19 vaccine (Ipsos)

Respondents in China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia are most willing to accept a Covid-19 vaccine.

Countries surveyed alongside South Africa in the latest Ipsos poll include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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