Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


Commission for Gender Equality has already done the damage of vaccine hesitancy

Even though the statement was withdrawn, it would still linger and discourage people from getting vaccinated.


A hastily withdrawn statement by the Commission for Gender Equality of alleged dangers for women taking Covid vaccinations may have already done serious damage to people’s confidence in the jabs, relying as it did on inaccurate or incorrect interpretations of scientific research.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Prof Glenda Davison said the biggest challenge was that even though the statement was withdrawn, it would still linger and discourage people from getting vaccinated.

“One of the biggest fears … is the loss of fertility, even though there is no scientific evidence that this is true,” she said.

“However, when an influential organisation makes this kind of false statement, it stimulates further fear and vaccine hesitancy.”

Davison said until countries achieved high levels of vaccination, the world would not overcome the pandemic and there would always be the danger of new variants emerging.

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“This puts people’s lives at risk, especially those in vulnerable groups.

“It is so important that those in influential positions check all information before making statements.”

The Digital Forensic Research Lab’s Tessa Knight said official sources should be able to centralise their information and the way they provide it, as they have a responsibility to ensure they communicate accurate information to the public.

“It must be very confusing for people who have limited access to information to hear conflicting information from different official sources,” she said.

“It’s even more confusing for women who may think the commission is speaking to them.” Meanwhile, commission
spokesperson Javu Baloyi would not answer any questions about why the statement had been retracted and how it planned to help alleviate the damage.

“Those who are supposed to answer those questions are not answering, so I can’t respond to something I know nothing about,” he said.

Its commissioner, Busisiwe Beyi, said various gender activists, associations and healthcare workers had helped them understand what the study was actually saying.

ALSO READ: Mandatory vaccines are ‘not the answer’

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