Vaccine hesitancy driving Covid-19 death rate up

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By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published49m ago

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Cape Town – The country is edging closer to 80 000 Covid-19 deaths, and the race to this grim milestone is being driven by vaccine hesitancy, leaving vaccination sites almost empty and morgues overflowing. The Western Cape is reporting an average of 80 deaths a day.

Speaking in parliament, Health Deputy Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo told the House Select Committee on Health and Social Services that the challenge that the country is now facing is vaccine hesitancy amongst South Africans.

Different sectors are pleading with people to go for the jab, among them Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien.

“Cape Town is not yet over the peak of its third wave. It will likely be several more weeks before we start seeing a decrease in the number of infections and fatalities.

“Given the gravity of the situation, the lack of compliance with Covid-19 protocols in some of our communities is baffling.

“Various City departments report increased non-compliance with the wearing of masks, and social distancing.

“We cannot afford to be cavalier, no matter how fatigued we are. Even if you don’t care about your own personal well-being, think about those around you,’ said Badroodien.

Opposition provincial health spokesperson Rachel Windvogel (ANC) called on men in particular to get vaccinated.

“Men must put away their sceptical excuses and help to prevent massive deaths during this pandemic. Do it to save the lives of others and your own loved ones.”

The CTICC Centre of Hope looks empty during lunchtime. Covid-19 deaths edge closer to 80 000 as infections continue to climb. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Trade union UASA spokesperson Abigail Moyo said the organisation was most concerned about the drop in the number of Covid-19 vaccinations taking place.

“The festive season will be upon us in a mere three months, a crucial time when we can expect an increase in cases as people get together with family and friends.

“Without vaccination, the virus is expected to mutate and spread in different forms. Only by vaccinating can we stop the virus in a reasonably short time,” said Moyo.

Provincial health department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said vaccine hesitancy was having an impact on the national vaccine rollout but that the department was looking at several options to address this.

“Our local teams are actively engaging communities where there is low uptake.

“We have also initiated several outreaches to vulnerable groups such as farmworkers, bed-ridden people and those at shelters. We have also been vaccinating people who do not have identification documents,” said Van der Heever.

Meanwhile, Western Cape head of health Dr Keith Cloete said that excess deaths appear to be plateauing across the province and in the Metro.

The current seven day moving average is pegged at 80 deaths per day, which is down from 108 deaths per day last week.

Dr Cloete said: “Reported deaths are plateauing and beginning to decline, and this is also reflected in the weekly South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) excess death reports.

“The hospitalisations and number of cases are also decreasing,” said Dr Cloete.

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