Slow vaccine rollout threatens economic recovery of domestic workers

The effects of slow vaccination rate on the most vulnerable workers, and how vaccine misinformation can be combated

By Luke Kannemeyer

Believe it or not, changing the mindsets and living conditions of domestic workers is a bit a daunting task. This is particularly because of their reliance on the income of their employer, and their frequent exploitation.

For about 17 months, vulnerable workers appear to be among the worst affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic. And don’t forget… slow vaccination rate is currently making the situation worse. Will they bounce-back once the bulk of the population is vaccinated?

There are concerns that more than 7,000 domestic workers across South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are reluctant towards being vaccinated with South Africa showing the greatest hesitancy. 

On a related note, many of the domestic workers in Kenya have experienced the loss of someone they know to COVID-19, and have comprehensive knowledge of the virus, which is probably why Kenyans are more likely to get the vaccine. 

Slow uptake of Covid-29 vaccine across the continent is posing a further threat to the economic recovery of workers – life will only return to “normal” once most of the population is vaccinated. 

In order to reach herd immunity for the virus that causes Covid-19, it is estimated that at least 70% of the population ought to be vaccinated. This won’t be possible if vaccine hesitancy rates are as high as reported, particularly in South Africa.

The best answer on how to end this pandemic and restore livelihoods is in the rapid and widespread vaccination of each country’s population. We are already challenged through the disproportionate allocation of vaccines to developing economies and the logistics associated with their provision. In other words, we cannot add an unwilling population to that mix.

Since the ability to overcome the pandemic is largely based on the success of vaccination rollout efforts, extensive effort should be made to combat misinformation and provide better education to the masses. 

We firmly believe that in order to successfully achieve herd immunity for COVID-19, governments need to work with faith-based communities, educational institutions and civil society to educate the populace as to the nature of the COVID-19 vaccine, its safety and its efficacy. This should be paired with education dispelling the myths around vaccination and impose strong penalties on those spreading false information.

Writer is the Chief Operating Officer of SweepSouth, a domestic workers’ platform

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