COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy has threatened the ability of many countries worldwide to contain the pandemic. Given the severe impact of the pandemic in South Africa and disruptions to the roll-out of the vaccine in early 2021, slower-than-expected uptake is a pressing public health challenge in the country. We examined longitudinal changes in COVID-19 vaccination intent among South African adults, as well as determinants of intent to receive a vaccine.
We used longitudinal data from Wave 4 (February/March 2021) and Wave 5 (April/May 2021) of the National Income Dynamics Study: Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), a national and broadly representative panel survey of adults in South Africa. We conducted cross-sectional analyses on aggregate and between-group variation in vaccination intent, examined individual-level changes between waves, and modeled demographic predictors of intent.
We analysed data for 5629 (Wave 4; 48% male, mean age 41.5 years) and 5862 (Wave 5; 48% male, mean age 41.6 years) respondents. Willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine significantly increased from 70.8% (95% CI: 68.5–73.1) in Wave 4 to 76.1% (95% CI: 74.2–77.8) in Wave 5. Individual-level analyses indicated that only 6.6% of respondents remained strongly hesitant between survey waves. Although respondents aged 18–24 years were 8.5 percentage points more likely to report hesitancy, hesitant respondents in this group were 5.6 percentage points more likely to change their minds by Wave 5. Concerns about rushed testing and safety of the vaccines were frequent and strongly-held reasons for hesitancy.
Willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has increased among adults in South Africa, and those who were entrenched in their reluctance make up a small proportion of the country’s population. Younger adults, those in formal housing, and those who trusted COVID-19 information on social media were more likely to be hesitant. Given that stated vaccination intent may not translate into behaviour, our finding that three-quarters of the population were willing to accept the vaccine may reflect an upper bound. Vaccination promotion campaigns should continue to frame vaccine acceptance as the norm and tailor strategies to different demographic groups.
Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine acceptance, vaccine hesitancy, South Africa, panel survey.
Reference: Burger, R., Kohler, T., Golos, A.M., Buttenheim, A.M., English, R., Tameris, M., Maughan-Brown, B. 2022. Longitudinal changes in COVID-19 vaccination intent among South African adults: evidence from the NIDS-CRAM panel survey, February to May 2021. BMC Public Health, 22(1).