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Mixed perceptions over COVID-19 vaccines

By Chany Ninrew

Despite fears of unequitable access to Coronavirus vaccines among the developed, developing and under developing countries, South Sudan is still determined to inoculate many of its 13 million population with the vaccine.

This process will be done with help of COVAX, a global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

In the weekly health briefing at Dr. John Garang Centre for Disease Control this month, the Ministry of Health revealed that they were in the final phase of application for a COVAX facility.

Upon confirmation of membership, the country is set to order for an amount of doses equivalent to 20% of the population, comprising of health workers, people with pre-existing conditions, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), people of old age and economically active population.

“There is an arrangement to make sure that the vulnerable people like elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are reached first, after application, it will take like 3 months for the country to realize arrival of vaccines,” said Dr. Thou Loi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

Loi also revealed that inoculations will take place through mixed strategies, both at the facilities and through outreach programs.

Meanwhile, as the vaccines are still months away, Juba Monitor interacted with some members of the public about whether or not they would take the lifesaving inoculations.

“It may depend on the cost of doses because in the developed countries like Europe and America, they are seen to be effective, but if the vaccines are charged at affordable costs, I may take it because it protects me from the disease,” said 25-year-old Juma Biel from the UN (IDPs) Camp of Juba.

Apparently, the Ministry of Health has not mentioned any possible cost of the vaccines.

However, 55-year-old Francis who works as a shopkeeper in Jenderu suburb believes any vaccination campaign in the country must be prior to an individual’s consent.

Asked whether he is ready to roll up his sleeve for a dose, he claimed that he is naturally immune to all diseases and as such, he has never taken any vaccine in his life.

“Since I was born in 1972, I never got any vaccine in my body, whether DPT, or BCG or Diphtheria, that’s why I will remain like that,” he said.

The middle-aged man believes the pandemic has been exaggerated and that most natural deaths nowadays are leveled against Coronavirus.

“According to the Bible, death is there whether it is Corona or not. For me I cannot fear anything because our life in this world is very short, if you have Corona you will die, if you don’t have Corona you will die, you see that there is nothing there,” he said as he burst into laughter.

Surrounded by his three teenage children, he stated that he will allow them to get vaccinated if they like.

Another lady whose name is withheld said NO to any vaccine for the coronavirus.

“I don’t think I would, I believe there is coronavirus but I have not experienced it, I have not seen anybody close to me experience it so I don’t think I would take the vaccine because I have not seen and felt it,” she argued.

She also believes people who possibly catch the vaccines are naturally recovering. Although it is true that 97% to 99.75% of those infected with the virus do recover in a period of two to three weeks, the World Health Organization still advises that all people at the age of 18 and above be immunized.

Meanwhile, a young boda-boda ridder who chose to be identified only as James said he will take the vaccine if the government and health experts say it is safe.

“If the government says that we should take the vaccines, we shall take them because they already know that those vaccines are good for the civilians,” he said.

Several tested COVID-19 vaccines have been confirmed to be safe and effective by the World Health Organization and U.S. vaccines safety system.

However, compounding social media myths, misconceptions and conspiracy theories continue to mislead many people even in the third world.

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