Amid the fake news about Covid vaccines, a devout churchgoer has said her hesitancy about getting the jab turned into decisiveness tinged with relief when Rhema Bible Church in Randburg became an official vaccination site.
Grace Sekgobela said: “I was hesitant at first because some of my friends who received the vaccine fell ill for about a week or two. Another myth I heard was whichever hand I received the vaccine in; that hand wouldn’t function and it would dry up and be magnetic.”
She said she thought there could be complications “but now that I received my vaccine, I am free and still feel fine”. Sekgobela said she chose the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because she wanted to be over and done with the process.
“The reason why I received the vaccine here today was not only do I attend my Sunday services here, but I also work here which made everything easier for me and for me to trust the vaccine.”
Senior pastor of Rhema Bible Church Ray McCauley said although the church and its 168 branches did not force the congregation to vaccinate, churchgoers were encouraged to vaccinate.
“We’ve been encouraging our entire congregation to receive the vaccine, but I firmly believe the vaccine is one of the solutions to the problem we are faced with. If everybody received the vaccine, we would be in a much better place and it’s been proven all over the world,” said McCauley.
He said it was possible churchgoers were hesitant to receive the vaccine because of the fake news, mostly on social media or due to remarks such as the one made by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
“I also think as time goes on people are beginning to see more and more that there is fake news which is untrue and are becoming smarter. They can also probably see once you’ve received the vaccine, one has more chances to live,” he said.
“As I look at statistics throughout the world, people that do die from the virus are mainly people who haven’t had the vaccine.”
Christians are among those questioning the vaccines, after Mogoeng – a staunch Christian and pastor – claimed the jabs bore the “mark of the beast” (the number 666).
“If there is any vaccine that is being manufactured for the purpose of corrupting the DNA of people the vaccine must be burned and die. God must intervene and destroy it. I am not saying all vaccines are advancing that agenda,” he said then.
Other major religious groups have also thrown themselves behind the campaign to get as many South Africans as possible vaccinated before the expected fourth wave of Covid hits the country in November or December.
Spokesperson for the Muslim Association of SA Waseem Koor said their site in Houghton reached the 50 000 vaccination mark the past weekend.
“We achieved this by being active on social media, encouraging people to come and posting images of people from all races to show it’s an easy and convenient process.
“The other message we’re pushing is: vaccinating is necessary to fight the pandemic.”
At the Rhema site, pupil Mzamo Ngonyana, 18, said he was convinced by his mother to receive the jab.
“I was hesitant due to the things I read online about the side-effects of vaccine, but I still feel fine after receiving my first vaccine. I received the Pfizer vaccine and will be back next month,” he said.