MASVINGO- Low COVID 19 vaccine uptake in communities has been attributed to misinformation and religious beliefs in some churches hence the need for proactive awareness programs, a health expert has said.
Speaking to journalists last week during a Science Café meeting organized by Health Communicators Forum (HCF), Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) Chairperson Maria Chiwera said some communities think that COVID 19 is no longer there.
“People are now reluctant, they are no longer wearing masks. Communities still think that Covid 19 has gone, others are no longer afraid of the COVID 19 pandemic but the vaccine itself,” she said.
According to experts COVID 19 vaccine uptake has been low especially the third dose.
Chiwera said a lot of misconceptions were peddled against the vaccine which made it difficult for people to get vaccinated hence the failure to reach the intended mass vaccination target.
“It starts with our vaccine providers, they are not proactive, and there is need of continuous campaigning. Service providers should keep on the momentum and raise awareness. The service providers themselves also need to be motivated in order to motivate communities,” she added.
Chiwera however said people later accepted that they need to be vaccinated and mostly took the vaccine when they needed to travel abroad.
A community based social worker from Chitungwiza, Nyadzisai Kakodzi said they are still having challenges with the third vaccine where most people are still hesitant to get the jab.
“Some people from the white garment churches are not willing to take the vaccine and in some Pentecostal churches they say they believe in the ‘Holy Spirit,” she said.
She also reiterated the need for awareness so that people will be more knowledgeable about the vaccine.
A survey by Afrobarometer in January 2020 revealed that vaccine hesitancy is particularly high among those who use social media as a regular news source where misinformation about vaccines circulate.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as from 3 January 2020 to 02 April 2023 there have been 264, 555 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Zimbabwe, and 5 680 deaths.
During the same period, 6 946 948 people got the first dose vaccine, while 5 156 362 got the second dose.
1 719 251 got the booster shot (third dose).