South Sudan Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei Yol takes the jab in this file photo

Sterility myth drives South Sudanese women away from COVID-19 vaccines

By Staff Writer

Women represent just 26 percent of those who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine in South Sudan, staying away from the exercise over a myth that the shots cause sterility.

For 27-year-old Mary Thon, the vaccines are out of plan until she witnesses those who have taken the jab “giving birth in the hospital or at home.”

“I am not yet married and the news I am getting from social media scares me to get vaccines,” Thon told Juba Echo in Juba.

“There are those who are saying those who got COVID-19 jabs will die after 2 years, and others are saying the vaccine cause infertility, so I am confuse, which one is which,” she said.

 “So, it’s better for me not to be vaccinated and wait for the result from those who are vaccinated.”

Just like her, 24-year-old Pita John said she isn’t interested in the jabs saying it may have a lot of risks.

I am not willing to go for vaccination,” the mother of two who operates a restaurant in the capital told Juba Echo.

“Many people are saying the vaccine causes infertility,” she said.

“How can one make herself barren when God say go and multiply?” 

The myths around the vaccine has left only a limited number of women planning for the safety from the global pandemic.

According to the Director General of Preventive Health, Dr Atem Riak said a total of 105,000 people have received vaccines since April this year with just 19,890 of them, 26.4 percent being women.

The vaccines currently being administered in the country are the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson.

According to the World Health Organisation though, both the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are safe for use.

WHO said “equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic” and is advising “we must continue wearing masks, cleaning our hands, ensuring good ventilation indoors, physically distancing and avoiding crowds.” 

South Sudan has an overall COVID-19 cumulative cases of 11,981 people.

Recoveries are 11,570 and 128 deaths.

Across cultures in South Sudan, fertility is seen as a shame to a woman and her family.

Anything that is associated with it is not taken lightly.

And like other women, that’s what has made Vicky Kuol stay away from getting the shots for the virus.

“I still want more children, so there is no need for me to take that vaccines that cause infertility,” the 30-year-old mother of 2 kids said.

“Its better for me to die of COVID-19 if that one is the case.”

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