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13 September 2021
Become more client-centred to curb vaccination hesitancy
What does the unvaccinated group look like? Among the unvaccinated group, you have those with a very strong belief against vaccines. Then there are the ‘wait-and-see’ groups - those who need more evidence. There are also people who are not vaccinated because the cost of standing in a 30-minute vaccine queue is simply too high. The reality for many in South Africa is no-work-no-pay, and that is why we are concerned about the unvaccinated in our economically vulnerable populations. 
Dr Carmen Christian is a lecturer in UWC's Department of Economics
From a policy perspective, it is easier to target the latter two groups where vaccine hesitancy is linked to a ‘wait-and-see’ strategy or high cost barriers. For these groups, the accessibility of vaccines must be improved. The process can be made a lot quicker and easier. In this way, the cost - be it monetary or mental - of accessing vaccines is lowered and it could encourage earlier action. 

It is quite easy to get a vaccine now that more vaccination sites have been opened on Saturdays as well. This is a huge improvement since most vaccination sites were only open during the week and during office hours less than a month ago. The inclusion of drive-through and mobile vaccination sites has also made a positive difference. 

Understanding the barriers to getting vaccinated and placing the needs of people first are key factors in any successful vaccine rollout plan. For instance, some of the elderly who are not technologically inclined and struggle to register on the Department of Health’s system could perhaps be assisted using telephonic or door-to-door registration. Limpopo serves as a good example of a province that designed their vaccination campaigns according to the needs of the people. Their campaigns reached out to communities who struggle with physical access to the closest vaccination centre. Respected community leaders were co-opted to convince those who still had doubts about taking the vaccine, with great results. 

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is about more than just saving yourself. It is about saving society too, because each mutation that arises could be more problematic than the last if the majority of the population isn’t vaccinated fast enough. And we understand the consequences that come with it: higher morbidity and mortality rates, more lockdowns, and the dire economic consequences of it all.