By Sandra Chibaya.
Women in the marginalized communities of Bulawayo are mostly affected by disinformation and inaccurate information about COVID-19 vaccine, pertaining their sexual reproductive health.
The fast-spread of rumors in these areas compelled some of the women to make uninformed decisions about their sexual health.
Women from St Peter’s peri urban area in Bulawayo highlighted some of the rumors that emerged during the pandemic period, the effects on the vaccine and their sexual reproductive health.
Some of the rumours claimed that if one gets vaccinated their body would get swollen and they would die after sometime, some rumours claimed that users would become infertile after getting vaccinated. Women also didn’t have enough information on the COVID-19 vaccine but they got vaccinated because of the restrictions that were now being put in place for moving around.
Egnes Ncube, (52), said at first, she didn’t go for vaccination because of the negative rumors that were circulating concerning the COVID-19 vaccine, but after the Women’s Information Access Project sessions she had her first two doses at Khami Prison because she was now better informed.
” During and after the vaccination process l felt nothing, all l can remember is the nurse saying am good to go. But ever since l got the boast (rd dose) l get a fever each time when it’s cold or raining . Health-wise my body is still functioning well.”
Catherine Mabhena, (37) noted that she feared for the old aged as they are the most valuable when it comes to issues of health.
” Rumors were saying once ogogo (the elderly) get vaccinated they may die as soon as they receive the vaccine. But they are still here with us still healthy and strong. There’s no harm in the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Elizabeth Sibanda, (60) also stated that, “l took all two doses of COVID-19, and till today l don’t have any problem pertaining it. I am okay.”
She also noted that she is due for her third jab at the end of this month and she is ready for it.
Penina Magudya, stated that she heard rumors saying if an old woman like her gets vaccinated while suffering from High Blood Pressure (BP), the vaccine can cause side effects in your body and lead to fast death, but nothing has happened to her ever since she got vaccinated.
“I got vaccinated as old as l am also suffering from BP. l feel no pain, in-fact am strong and l work in the garden all day.”
Josephine Nyoni also stated that she got 2 doses of the Covid vaccine, then towards her third dose she tested positive for the HIV virus while in South Africa. She lost her vaccination card while she was travelling back to Zimbabwe. When she sought help at the healthcare center her problem was not addressed. This made her give up on getting the third dose.
” I just gave up on dose three. I wish to be boosted but I am tired of moving up and down seeking replacement for my COVID-19 card.”
Sizalobuhle Ncube, a community health advisor and peer educator urged women at St Peter’s to get vaccinated and continue to spread the news to other women out there.
She also noted that some lost their loved ones during the pandemic and could not bury them because of COVID-19 restrictions. She also noted that the vaccine emerged as a saviour, people no longer wear masks, they can walk freely in the streets and funerals are being held with people able to bury their loved ones.
The women promised to take all the information into consideration and help share the information with others. They also acknowledged that the vaccine prevents the spread of COVID-19 and it boost the immune system.