South Africans have been encouraged to receive COVID-19 vaccinations from one of the most prominent figures in the nation: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Tutu, through his foundation, issued a statement Monday that’s meant to reduce vaccine hesitancy while reassuring citizens that the coronavirus vaccines are as effective as they are safe. He pledged to have the vaccination himself as soon as one becomes available.
“Many people are scared or wary of this simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against infectious diseases before they even come into contact with them,” the Tutu statement said.
“There is nothing to fear. Vaccination uses your body’s natural defenses to build resistance to infections. It makes your immune system stronger, and because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of disease-causing viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications.”
The 89-year-old archbishop, revered as an anti-apartheid faith leader and advocate of human rights, went on to describe his battle with tuberculosis in his youth and the advances in controlling TB that relied in part on vaccines.
“In many countries, TB is no longer a threat. This includes large parts of Africa and South America,” Tutu said. “Its eradication is thanks to a combination of vaccines and effective treatment. We can do the same with Covid-19, and claim our lives back.
“The more people who are vaccinated against Covid-19, the more every one of us is protected against this unpredictable and devastating disease.”
South Africa remains the hardest-hit by COVID on the African continent, with 37, 449 fatalities, according to the latest numbers from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Image: Wikimedia 2009 file