Africans reject vaccines because they dont trust it

Efforts to eradicate certain diseases have foundered before in Africa when a section of the population rejects vaccination – often driven by religious beliefs and mistrust of Western pharmaceutical companies.

In 2003, Muslim clerics instigated a boycott of polio shots in northern Nigeria. There have been similar appeals against COVID-19 shots.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli told citizens to avoid the vaccines – calling them a foreign plot – and protect themselves by praying while inhaling steam.

The governor of Nigeria’s Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, was filmed in January saying vaccine makers “want to … introduce the disease that will kill you, God forbid.”

In December, South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng prayed that “any vaccine that is of the devil … may it be destroyed by fire”, in remarks he declined to recant despite fierce criticism.

Mogoeng had no further comment, his spokesman said.

Such concerns are not uncommon on a continent where sickness is often seen as resulting from supernatural forces – and where big pharmaceutical companies have run dubious clinical trials resulting in deaths.

Added to the mix are conspiracy theories available online, some of which from “anti-vaxxers” in wealthier countries.

South Africa’s Department of Health has run a publicity campaign to counter popular myths, including that Bill Gates, whose foundation helped fund the development of COVID-19 vaccines, put a microchip in them that he plans to use for world domination.

The UJ survey found that less-educated people were more willing to be vaccinated, and white South Africans, who tend to be wealthier and have access to better schools, were more hesitant than Blacks.

People with … degree-level education are often the ones very interested in their smart phones, so they have greater access to conspiracy theories than poorer folk who get information from radio and TV, survey co-author Kate Alexander said.

Elsewhere in the world, trust in vaccines has improved since last year, with most happy to take them, and only 12% reporting no trust at all, according to a YouGov survey of 15 countries.

Influential figures, such as anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu, say they will take the COVID-19 shot.

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