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Concerns about vaccine safety were common in the study. (File)Johannesburg: Less than half of the African continent is amenable to mandatory vaccinations for COVID-19, according to a study by a group of scientists, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal, PLOS One.The study came amid growing debates worldwide on compulsory vaccinations to ensure access to workplaces, public events, shopping centres and air travel.”Only 40 per cent wanted mandatory vaccination. Mandatory vaccination could potentially accelerate vaccine uptake and the attainment of herd immunity. It could, however, undermine patients” trust in healthcare workers, threaten individual agency, and pose ethical risks if it burdens the most vulnerable in the population unduly,” the report from the scientists said.The countries in the study were South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa; Egypt in North Africa; and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan in Central Africa.”We (also) found substantial vaccine hesitancy among Africans living in Africa as well as in the diaspora,” the report said.Concerns about vaccine safety were common in the study.”The majority of respondents were worried about the vaccines” side effects, and many were even concerned that they might get infected with the coronavirus by obtaining the vaccine,” the report said, as it urged planners of COVID-19 vaccination programmes in Africa to proactively anticipate this challenge.”Only 63 per cent of participants would receive COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible, and an additional five per cent would receive vaccines after considering their safety among earlier vaccinated individuals,” it said.”We found that respondents’ risk perception was related to their attitude to COVID-19 vaccines. The odds of vaccine hesitancy were substantially low if participant’s perceived risk of infection or sickness was very high.”Vaccine hesitancy was high in our population – 26 per cent believed the vaccines were unnecessary, and 43 per cent believed alternatives to COVID-19 vaccination exist.”Vaccine hesitancy was more common among young people than older adults and in rural areas compared to urban ones.”Highlighting the implications for control of the COVID-19 pandemic on the African continent, the study found that Central Africa has a significantly low vaccine acceptance rate of under 35 per cent, compared to around 75 per cent in Southern Africa.The report said misinformation campaigns, often led by populist leaders, have been frequent during the pandemic, creating division and undermining trust in public institutions and scientists.Other cross-national perception studies from Africa on the pandemic have revealed that this includes the belief that the virus is origin punishment from God for perceived sin; that the virus has been created by 5G broadband technology or for biological warfare against Africans; and even that the COVID-19 virus does not exist and can be cured by local herbs if it does.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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