With fears, myths and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccination doing the rounds on social media, the UCT-based Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) held an information session in Khayelitsha earlier this week.
Zandile Ciko, the centre’s public engagement Manager, said they wanted to explain how vaccines are developed and how they work. She said her organisation wanted to create platforms for engagement and to eradicate misinformation about vaccination.
“We wanted to ensure that people understand the concept of vaccination. We want researchers to come out of labs and make people understand the concept of infectious diseases research.
“We want people to understand why there is a need for vaccines as they serve two purposes – keeping people safe and saving money as people do not need treatment after being vaccinated,” she said.
Mthawelanga Ndengane who is a medical microbiology PhD student at the University of Cape Town,, conducting research under CIDRI-Africa, delivered a presentation on the process of developing a vaccine in which he also explained that a vaccine is not necessarily a cure.
Rather, it enables your body to be alerted that they might be an infection coming, and how to fend it off. Mr Ndengane said during a the development of a vaccine parts of the various are used and because of this people fear that they might get virus from the vaccines.
He explained that parts of the virus are used so that the antibodies your body develops, learns to recognise the virus if you contract it.
Once you have been vaccinated, he said, your antibodies are produced quickly and in large quantities, giving your body a better chance of fighting the virus.
“I urge people to do further research. Getting a vaccination would help your antibodies to fight off the disease. We need a lot of community engagement so that we could share the knowledge abut vaccination,” he said.
Chairperson of Khayelitsha health forum, Mzanywa Ndibhongo said they were pleased with the session as it had helped to eliminate myths associated with the vaccination.