By Sandra Chibaya.
Women living on the streets of Bulawayo were mostly affected by the circulation of fake news about COVID-19, especially pertaining their sexual reproductive health.
These rumors have posed as a key barrier to the COVID-19 vaccine uptake for women living on the street, and has prolonged the effects of the pandemic. Their vaccination hesitancy has significant ripple effects which cause a delay in the building of trust during the vaccination roll out.
With the help of Mrs Sizanobuhle Ncube, a community health advisor and peer-educator, the Amakhosikazi media team managed to better inform women living on the streets at Eveline grounds, Bulawayo through an interactive discussion on the impact of Covid 19 rumours on their health choices.
Dianah Krueger, said she was not interested in being vaccinated before, because all she heard was misinformation about the vaccine, but later she realized that the vaccine was harmless so she also got vaccinated.
“I got two doses for COVID-14 (sic), first dose I caught a fever which lasted for a week, l also experienced a cold and flu. When l later received dose two, all symptoms went away and l am looking forward to receiving the third dose at the end of month, at St Margret.”
Addressing Miss Dianah’s situation, Mrs. Ncube explained that, the flue and headaches were most probably because she already had Coronavirus in her system. Hence her body was reacting to the vaccine.
Another woman only known as Vimbai shared her experience concerning the Covid-19 vaccine, she said that women didn’t have enough information about the vaccine, all she knew were the rumours she heard on the streets.
She also noted that she got vaccinated due to the restrictions put in place by the authorities, saying that everyone should be vaccinated.
“I didn’t know much about the vaccine, but l got vaccinated because it was being said that those who are not vaccinated won’t be able to walk around the streets, get into town and even buy from the shops.
When l got vaccinated l just felt a chill throughout my body, but l felt no pain and my body still functioned well.”
Caren Phiri stated that, ” Ever since l got vaccinated l have a lot of appetite for food, l eat a lot.’’
She also noted that she experienced no change and she also gave birth to a health and strong baby who is currently four months old.
‘’I got all my doses for the vaccine and l didn’t see any side effects, so l can confirm that the vaccine is safe.” she said
Philile Dube, who got vaccinated at United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH), and is to get her booster shot in the coming days, said the only problem is that she is developing a rash all over her body but she does not know what is causing it.
Mrs Ncube addressed some of the issues raised saying, there was death from other causes before the COVID-19 virus, so people will continue to die as before from other causes. She also noted that when a person focuses on the negative things they hear from other people, psychologically it becomes exactly what their mind concentrates on and they start to see negative things in their bodies even if they are not as bad as they will be imagining.
She also noted that the vaccine is good, women should boost so that their immune system stays strong in case a worse virus attacks again.
” Yes, people have side effects when injected, it’s normal hence if you experience any discomfort(s) feel free to visit the health centers for inquiries and further treatment.