Seventy two percent of South Africans adults are willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19.This is based on the findings of the recent survey conducted by the University of Johannesburg (UJ)’s Centre for Social Change and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)’s Developmental, Capable and Ethical State Research Division.
Kate Alexander, Carin Runciman, Benjamin Roberts, Martin Bekker and Narnia Bohler-Muller authored the report.
The high vaccine acceptance rate is a major boost to the government’s inoculation programme to reach herd immunity before the outbreak of the fourth wave anticipated to hit the country around December this year. If all 72% of the respondents were to be vaccinated this will only be eight percent away from government’s target of vaccinating 80% of the population.
Titled: “Vaccine acceptance and hesitancy: Findings from the UJ/HSRC Covid-19 Democracy Survey”, it is round 4 of a series of similar projects conducted on the topic earlier this year.
To elicit the necessary data the respondents had to answer one question: “if a Covid-19 vaccine became available to you, would you take it?’ Participants could then respond with one of the following answers:
- ‘I’ve already had the vaccine’
- ‘yes, I would definitely get the vaccine’
- ‘I would probably get the vaccine’
- ‘I would probably not get the vaccine’
- ‘No, I definitely would not get the vaccine’ and
- ‘Don’t know’.
Acceptance rate increases
The survey also highlighted the problem of hesitancy particularly among the [young] adults aged 18-24. For instance, among people aged 55 years and above, the acceptance rate increased by 11 percentage points. Comparatively, acceptance among the young adults – aged 18-34 – dipped from 63% to 55%. It also looked at two notable variables, namely, race and gender. In terms of the former, acceptance was greatest among Black African (75%), followed by Indians and Asians (64%) and then Coloured adults accounting (64%).
“White adults are considerably more hesitant than other population groups. Only 52% of White adults indicate that they are willing to take a vaccine, 23 percentage points lower than for Black African adults. This is despite a higher proportion of White adults already having been vaccinated than compared to other population groups,” notes report.
On gender the report notes that even though there has been a five percent point increase in vaccine acceptance between both men and women, “there is a perplexing gendered contrast between willingness to vaccinate and actual vaccination”. For instance, men are more accepting of vaccination than women (74%) as opposed to (70%) of women; however, men “are less likely to have been vaccinated (9% versus 12%)”.
Other key demographic factors that came under the spotlight related to class and these include: education, income, employment status, settlement types; medical aid, car in the household, politics and beliefs.
Here is the summary of the findings:
- Round 4 of the UJ/HSRC Covid-19 Democracy Survey, conducted between 25 June and 12 July 2021, recorded a rate of acceptance of 72%. That is, 72% of adults in South Africa had either been vaccinated, or would definitely take the vaccine, or would probably take it. This is five percent higher than in Round 3, conducted between 29 December 2020 and 6 January 2021.
- Correspondingly, we found that hesitancy had declined by five percentage point from 33% in round 3 to 28% in round 4.
- Acceptance was highest among those aged 55 and older, where it had increased from 74% to 85% and lowest among those aged 18-25, where it had declined from 63% to 55%. The acceptance rate was 90% for pensioners and 58% for students.
- Among Black African adults, acceptance had increased from 69% to 75%, but it had declined from 56% to 52% among White adults. However, White adults were more likely than Black African adults to have been vaccinated (16% compared to 10%).
- Men were slightly more accepting than woman (74% compared to 70%), but slightly less likely to have been vaccinated (9% compared to 12%).
- Out of six ‘settlement types’, people living in suburban houses had the lowest acceptance rate (69%) but the highest rate of vaccination (18%).
- There was a higher vaccine acceptance among people living in rural areas compared to urban areas.
- The report demonstrates that class factors do not strongly influence vaccine acceptance but do influence access to vaccination. Using medical aid as one proxy for class, we show that there were similar acceptance rates for those with and without coverage, but those with coverage were twice as likely to have been vaccinated. Car ownership revealed a similar pattern.
- There was minimal variation in rates of acceptance and vaccination across a spectrum between ‘extremely religious’ and ‘extremely non-religious’.
- Vaccine acceptance is higher among people who say they know ‘a lot’ about Covid-19 vaccines (79%), than among those who say they know ‘a fair amount’ (74%), ‘a little’ (72%) and ‘nothing at all’ (62%). The implication is that increased knowledge will lead to increased acceptance.
- With information sources, the lowest acceptance rate was associated with social media and the highest rate with flyers etc., with television and radio in the middle. There is a case for intensifying campaigning across all platforms, but television is the most important because it has the greatest influence (followed by radio).
The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded the report.