South Africa: Communicating Uncertainty With Integrity - the Challenges of Vaccine Literacy


The rapid generation of Covid-19 scientific evidence in the past 18 months has meant that public health information, communication and interventions have had to rapidly keep pace with recent scientific evidence as it emerges. This poses a challenge for health messaging and communication, and often leaves people confused as they are required to assess and appraise information on an ongoing basis.

Dr Nirvana Pillay and Dr Nancy Coulson (Sarraounia Public Health Trust) are Principal Investigators on the VaxScenes Project. VaxScenes is funded by the Human Sciences Research Council, in partnership with the Sarraounia Public Health Trust and the South African Medical and Research Council (SAMRC).

The past weeks have seen the debate on mandatory vaccination increasing in frequency and intensity. Currently vaccination is not mandatory in South Africa except for a few sectors. Notwithstanding this, debates in the public space rage on and are increasingly seeping into private spaces, too.

Many are considering how they feel about family, friends and employees who do not vaccinate - including how to ask or enquire about vaccination, and what to do when people in personal spaces refuse to vaccinate.

The path ahead is potentially conflict ridden and litigious. As a country, there are...

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