Activists in Zimbabwe have tried to persuade wavering members of apostolic religious groups to get vaccinated against COVID-19, amid pervasive misinformation.
“It is a very big challenge, this question of vaccination. People are getting misleading information, especially from social media, about vaccinations,” said campaigner Yvonne Binda.
Binda and her colleague, Alexander Chipfunde, spoke to a congregation dressed in pristine white robes in Seke, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Harare, telling them not to believe what they heard about the bites of Covid-19.
Apostolic groups that infuse traditional beliefs into Pentecostal doctrine are among the most skeptical
Zimbabwe over Covid-19 vaccines, with already strong distrust of modern medicine.
Many followers put their faith in prayer, holy water and anointed stones to ward off or cure disease.
There has been little detailed research on apostolic churches in Zimbabwe, but UNICEF studies estimate it to be the largest religious denomination with around 2.5 million followers in a country of 15 million. of inhabitants.
Conservative groups adhere to a doctrine requiring followers to avoid drugs and medical care and instead seek healing through their faith.
More than 80% of Zimbabweans identify as Christian, according to the national statistics agency, but there is no single solution to convince hesitant religious citizens to get vaccinated.
While mandates — a blunt no vaccine, no entry rule — might work for some churches, another
approach may be necessary for apostolic groups, which generally worship outdoors.
Binda is one of about 1,000 members of various faith groups recruited by the Zimbabwean government and UNICEF to try to gently change attitudes towards vaccines within their own churches.
While slow and steady may be preferable to deal with some religious hesitation, the situation is urgent in Africa, which has the lowest vaccination rates in the world.
Zimbabwe has fully vaccinated 15% of its population, far better than many other African countries but still far behind the United States and Europe.
Addressing an audience of worshipers on Sunday, the country’s deputy health minister hailed the economic benefits of getting bitten.
“Once we are vaccinated, our economy will open up to full throttle,” he said.- Source Africa News