Christmas cancelled, relatives uninvited as jab hesitancy divides SA families

Eyewitness News spoke to some people who have cancelled their traditional family gatherings with others uninviting friends and relatives because they refuse to get a COVID-19 jab.

An education department employee gets a COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Rabasotho community hall in Tembisa on 23 June 2021. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey Makhaza/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans are facing yet another unprecedented Christmas amidst rising COVID-19 numbers with many families divided about whether they should risk socialising with unvaccinated family friends.

Eyewitness News spoke to some people who have cancelled their traditional family gatherings, with others uninviting friends and relatives because they refuse to get a COVID-19 jab.

South Africa has an ample supply of COVID-19 vaccines and is in fact deferring some of its vaccine orders due to the low uptake in jabs.

Government was aiming to get 70% of the adult population inoculated by the end of the year but is falling behind the target.

You might be wondering why there are fewer Christmas crackers at the dinner table this year and fewer presents under the tree.

With thousands of South Africans still refusing to get their COVID-19 vaccine, some families and friends are drawing the line and keeping the unvaccinated out of their homes, even their closest relatives.

One Gauteng woman said that she'd uninvited her sister: “Obviously, there is going to be a bit of backlash from her and I don’t expect her to understand and if she doesn’t, that’s fine but we are not willing to risk it.”

One Limpopo man will be breaking with tradition this year, refusing to mingle with his family, some of whom refuse to get vaccinated.

But not everyone feels this way. There are those who are vaccinated and feel that offers them enough protection, saying that family togetherness trumps vaccination status.

Scientists say that vaccines are the best way to stop the mutation of COVID-19 and the formation of new variants.

The Health Department's acting Director-General Nicholas Crisp said: “But there will always be those who have gone off a different train and have believed everything is a conspiracy.”

While children around the world are leaving cookies and milk for Father Christmas, you might want to leave a bottle of hand sanitiser too just in case.