COVID-19, Politics and hesitancy

Issued by: Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change

14 September 2021



The vaccine roll-out programme could face another challenge as preparations for the local government elections, set to take place on November 1, continue.


Insights from a weekly social listening report into Covid-19 vaccines have revealed concerns around the vaccine roll-out becoming a political issue during the elections campaign period. 


According to the insights, “there are reports that people are not vaccinating as they do not support the ANC (which is associated with the vaccine rollout), particularly in the North West province; and also reports of vaccine-supporting local activists being accused of ‘working for [President Cyril] Ramaphosa’ and threatened”.


In his address to the nation on Sunday evening, Ramaphosa encouraged more South Africans to get vaccinated, saying “the day will soon come when we can gather again without restrictions, fill stadiums and music venues, travel and move about freely without the fear of becoming ill or losing our loved ones”.


Meanwhile, people have expressed concerns that government has dedicated a majority of its focus to vaccines as other issues, such as unemployment and hunger, take the backseat. 


“There is some opposition to vaccination as they perceive the government is not doing anything to resolve the issues that really matter to them,” read the report. 


In addition to the mistrust in government, the report also revealed people’s concerns about the side effects of the vaccines, which some believe are being concealed by government, the media as well as the healthcare sector. 


This, despite countless reassusrances on the safety of vaccines, their non-threatening side effects and the distructive consequences of mis and disinformation in fuelling hesitancy. 


“Several people are saying they have not taken the second dose of Pfizer vaccine due to side effects from the first dose.”


Conflicts between the vaccinated and unvaccined groups were also detected, with the former being “concerned” about being around the latter; and the latter feeling “discriminated against” by the former. 


Despite the challenges, the reported decline in cases,  which was cited as the reason behind the country’s move to lockdown level 2, seems to be the good news people have been waiting for as roll out programme continues. 


At the time of this article, more than 14 million vaccines had been administered across the country. 

Access the full report    ,


Media enquiries:

Praveen Naidoo, CABC Media Manager [email protected]


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