A new study from two Eastern Cape medics shows that 91.9% of staff at Cecilia Makiwane and Frere hospitals will take the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available in the province in the next few weeks.
But despite a high rate of acceptance among health staff, researchers warned about false information and myths at play and said it was up to health workers to persuade the public to accept being vaccinated.
The study was carried out by infectious disease specialist at Frere Hospital Dr David Stead and medical specialist and head of the emergency unit at Makiwane Hospital Dr Vincent Adeniyi in partnership with the Walter Sisulu University, SA Medical Research Council and the Eastern Cape Effective Care Research Unit.
The team presented their findings on Wednesday afternoon and said 1,313 healthcare workers participated in the study between November 6 and December 18.
Some of the key findings showed that just 90 of the 1,055 female employees were unready for the vaccine. Of the 236 male workers in both hospitals, it showed only 18 people were unwilling to take it.
The study found that 100% of porters and mortuary staff recorded were ready to be vaccinated, followed by doctors at 96.4%, pharmacy staff (95.4%), management staff (95.5%) and administration staff (90.5%).
The vaccine acceptance rate fell among radiology workers (86.8%) and allied health workers (84.7%).
Black staff reported a 91.5% acceptance, followed by Indians (88.9%), whites (86.4%), Asians (85.5%) and coloureds (84.5%).
In an interview with DispatchLIVE, Stead said while there were small differences across race, roles at work and education level for vaccine acceptance, the rates were still reassuringly high.
“This large cross-sectional sample of healthcare workers at East London’s tertiary and regional referral hospitals revealed a high rate of Covid-19 vaccine acceptance at 91.9%,” he said.
This was far was higher than the 64% reported in an Ipsos survey of the SA public.
“I have had some staff and some nurses raising concerns about the vaccine.
“Some ask about myths like microchips in the vaccines and a ploy of the West to take advantage of Africa.
“There have been some organisations that have been negative towards the vaccine, saying they are not going to let their members take it.
“I was concerned that more people would be swayed by some of the fake news about.
“SA, like all countries, has experienced the devastating effect of Covid at all levels, and the best way of getting control of it and bringing down the number of infections is through vaccination.
“That is the best way for people to protect themselves and to protect their loved ones.”
Adeniyi explained why some people were reluctant to take the vaccine.
“There are a lot of myths and false news about the vaccine,” he said.
“Vaccine hesitancy refers to a delay in the acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite its availability, and has been encountered since the invention of vaccines in 1796.”
He said healthcare workers would play an important role in educating people about vaccines.
“People will be able to disseminate accurate information.
“It is imperative for our healthcare workers to be the change that we want to see, and to give the correct information to people.”