Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Laureate, Desmond Tutu, has urged South Africans not to fear being vaccinated against Covid-19 as the country prepares to carry out mass vaccination.
The veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner pledged to be immunised once a vaccine becomes available to him.
In a statement issued by the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, said it was vital that people took the vaccine.
“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc. It has destroyed lives and livelihoods and has robbed us of the comfort of family and friends, but we can stop it. We have vaccines. I join many other world leaders in pledging to have a vaccine against Covid-19 as soon as one becomes available to me.
“Vaccines have eradicated terrible diseases such as smallpox, and we are close to using them to make others, such as polio and measles, history. Yet 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. There is nothing to fear,” he said.
A poll conducted last year at the outbreak of the pandemic found 21% of South Africans were strongly opposed to Covid-19 vaccination.
The government has procured 1.5 million vaccine doses for January and February, with an additional 20 million doses in June.
The country has seen a surge in cases since a new variant was identified in the country in November.
Tutu, who suffered from Tuberculosis as a teenager in 1945, said he lost two years of his life to the disease.
“I am pledging to have a Covid-19 vaccine, because I already know what it is to lose years of your life to a disease. I also know what it is to worry that I have passed a preventable disease on to people I love. I ask you to do the same.
“Don’t let Covid-19 continue to ravage our country or our world. Vaccinate,” he pleaded.
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