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Bates College

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


Despite countries all over the world transitioning to life post COVID-19, there are still many aspects of the pandemic that remain controversial and hot topics of debate. Perhaps among one of the most debated subjects is the question of whether vaccinations are necessary and if they truly had an impact on eliminating the virus. The concept of vaccine hesitancy has become a growing concern and threatens the health of communities around the world.

This project employed a mixed-methodology research design to investigate attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccine constructed by community members living in the townships of Cato Manor and Chesterville. Through community engagement involving the distribution of surveys (n=30) and semi-structured informational interviews (n=11), this study identified how the lived experience of South Africans through the pandemic has informed aspects of their vaccine hesitancy. Moreover, by asking questions related to behaviors, beliefs, and associations to the COVID-19 vaccine, this study drew quantitative and qualitative conclusions regarding reasons for hesitancy through the eyes of community members residing in Cato Manor and Chesterville.

Findings from this study concluded that participants had several reasons for choosing to either vaccinate or not vaccinate themselves. Among vaccinated individuals, their reasons included protection from the virus and to protect other community members; whereas unvaccinated individuals were more concerned with the side effects of the vaccine as opposed to catching COVID-19. Information between the two groups was received from similar sources but levels of trust and skepticism separated how the groups decided what information was valid or not. Either way, this study helped understand what perceptions were prevalent during the pandemic and the factors that drove vaccine hesitancy.


African Studies | Epidemiology | Immunology of Infectious Disease | Influenza Virus Vaccines | Medicine and Health | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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