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A quarter of South Africans who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 say they refuse to get a shot because they believe it will harm or kill them, according to a study by the University of Cape Town.

SA has fully inoculated just more than 44% of its adult population over a seven-month period even as the Omicron variant has fuelled record case numbers across the country since November. 

The survey was done to help guide those tackling SA’s vaccine-hesitancy problem and inform the debate over whether to make shots obligatory for various public places, said the researchers, led by Brendan Maughan-Brown.

Interviews were conducted with 1,940 unvaccinated people countrywide. They found that about 34% are willing, but there are barriers to doing so, 21% will wait and see and 15% will only get vaccinated if required, the university’s Southern Africa Labour Development Research Unit said in an initial release of its study. 

As many as one in four will continue to refuse, the research found, mainly because of fears about the safety of the doses. 

Most of the interviews were carried out since Omicron was announced as a variant of concern last month. More data is being collected and will be released in January. About 800 of the people interviewed, the biggest group, were 18—34 years old.

Those who are open to getting a vaccine indicated this would depend on ease of access. Interviewers asked if they would consider receiving a shot in the next week if a trained healthcare worker administered it in their own home or place of work. About 70% said they would.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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