- MoH confirms vaccine hesitancy in different quarters
If it was not for veiled by persistent threats by the government, the Bazezuru tribe says it would reject COVID-19 vaccines because its religion is against modern medicine.
In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, the leader of Bazezuru in Francistown, Jacob Hamadziripi, said while their religion is particularly against vaccination, talk of a vaccine passport becoming a requirement for being admitted to public facilities, attending events and travelling compelled some of them to take the jabs.
“We do not believe in vaccination because our bodies do not rely on vaccines,” Hamadziripi said. “That is why even our children never take the vaccines that are given to babies and children as they grow. Seeking medical attention is a last resort for us.”
“But this time around, fear of consequences is compelling because it seems normal life will be difficult without a COVID-19 passport. In some instances, some of us vaccinated because they were seriously ill.”
“I had my first injection at the age of 50 years after a dog bite. This alone is an indication that our bodies do not need modern medication. As a leader, I will not force anyone to take the jab. However, I will urge those who fear that they could be on the wrong side of the law to take the vaccine.”
Public health campaigns and vaccination have always met with BaZezuru resistance. They were at loggerheads with the government over immunization against measles and rubella that required vaccinating all children under 14 years, saying God alone was responsible for their health.
In a televised address last week, President Mokgweetsi Masisi told Batswana that the government may resort to use of a certain law against people who do not take COVID vaccines. Responding to Gazette enquiries, the chief spokesman of the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), Dr Christopher Nyanga, confirmed that the government was facing vaccine hesitancy from different sections of society, including BaZezuru.
“Efforts to educate Batswana and all residents to take the COVID-19 vaccine are ongoing and the ministry remains positive that even those who may still be hesitant will eventually take the jab when their time comes,” Nyanga said.