Hesitancy to vaccinate among KZN healthcare workers, 20 000 unvaccinated

Government aims to engage, educate and dismiss vaccine hesitancy in healthcare workers to meet vaccination targets.

KwaZulu-Natal had set a target to vaccinate 7.2 million residents by December 2021 in order to reach heard immunity, however with only 27% of the target reached so far, the province is turning its attention to its healthcare workers. Over 20 000 healthcare workers have still not been vaccinated, leaving the provincial government concerned. Government aims to understand the COVID-19 myths that are causing a reluctance in their workers getting vaccinated. They plan to engage the healthcare workers and dismiss the misinformation by educating them. Ayanda Zulu, National Health and Allied Works’ Union Secretary-General noted that healthcare workers were resistant to receiving the jab due to a lack of transparency from government. She further added that health workers are at the forefront and are needed to convince communities to get vaccinated.

Dr Sandile Tshabalala, KwaZulu-Natal Health Head of Department said “In Prince Mshiyeni, 36 000 people interact with one nurse in a month who has no idea about how many are infected. If you are not vaccinated as a nurse you would be exposed to all the different strains of Covid.” There has been a call for government to revive its weekly engagements with the trade unions in efforts to address the concerns they receive on the ground. Mandla Shabangu, Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa Provincial Secretary stated that “the initial success was based on regular interaction, which is now non-existent.” In mid-August 2021, Limpopo reported that none of its vaccinated healthcare workers had died during the third wave, this positive report reiterated the fact that vaccines save lives.