SA is worried about vaccines and impotence, so a cartoon virus is eating eggplants online.

Business Insider SA
  • South Africa's vaccination rate for Covid-19 remains stubbornly low, even as infections spike again.
  • People across the country are concerned about impotence and miscarriages, but easily convinced with clear information, says government's social listeners.
  • A deflating eggplant features in one online video. Then a cartoon virus eats some of the purple fruit.
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On Wednesday, South Africa breached 10,000 new reported coronavirus infections on the day for the first time in months, with a  test positivity rate of 25.3%, up from 23% the day before.

Spikes in infection are being recorded in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape.

National Institute for Communicable Diseases 7-day
The 7-day moving average of cases by province. (NICD)

As authorities closely watch those numbers – and the extent to which infections are decoupled from hospitalisations – South Africa's rate of vaccination remains stubbornly low. 

By Wednesday afternoon, just over 46% of the adult population is considered fully vaccinated. In KwaZulu-Natal, that proportion is below 40%, and among 18 to 34-year-olds it is not much above 30%.

Vaccinations have effectively stalled, said health minister Joe Phaahla late last month.

One driver of vaccine hesitancy is the belief that Covid-19 is no longer dangerous, said the government's "social listening" team this week. Worries about sexual health is another.

At over 100 workshops on Covid-19 vaccines across the country, "in every single session", the issue of miscarriages and impotence came up, said the team in its weekly report. 

Given clear and simple information, those workshops showed, many people could be convinced of the benefits of vaccination.

Surveys differ on exactly what factor looms largest in the mixture that either convince or prevents people from receiving a vaccine, but overall numbers suggest younger men have unique worries. Among people 50 and older, the vaccination rate for men is slightly higher than that for women. But that changes quickly lower down the age spectrum, and for 18 to 34-year-olds, women are significantly more likely to have had at least one shot of a vaccine.

One attempt to combat that features a slowly deflating eggplant, while explaining the real impact Covid-19 infection has on reproductive health.

The public service announcement video is by CovidComms SA, a group of communicators who work alongside government to spread "accurate and helpful" information on the pandemic

It ends with a cartoon virus eating a row of eggplants, in the style of Pacman.

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