55 per cent of young people say they will get COVID-19 vaccine - UNICEF

UNICEF South Africa U-Report poll highlights importance of engaging with young people to urgently build COVID-19 vaccine confidence

02 September 2021

PRETORIA, 02 September 2021 – Only 55 per cent of young people would get vaccinated against COVID-19 if it’s recommended to them, according to a new UNICEF South Africa poll. Some 22 per cent of respondents stated that they will not get the vaccine and 23 per cent are still unsure.

The poll was conducted using UNICEF South Africa’s free U-Report SMS platform and received more than 5,000 responses, with 75 per cent of those from young people aged up to 24-years.

Despite the findings, 86 per cent of youth think that the COVID-19 vaccine is important for their health to some degree, but only 44 per cent believe their friends will get vaccinated.

“Young people are currently bolstering the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out by turning up in numbers,” said Christine Muhigana, UNICEF South Africa Representative. Since becoming eligible for the vaccine on 20 August, more than 1.3 million people, aged 18 to 35-years, have received a COVID-19 dose.

“The urgency now is to ensure that all young people have access to the facts and credible information to help increase vaccine confidence. We also need to encourage youth who have been vaccinated to get their peers to take the COVID-19 shot,” added Muhigana.

The poll also highlighted that 37 per cent of young people believe TV and radio are the most trusted sources for accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines, closely followed by health workers at 36 per cent and social media at 13 per cent.

UNICEF is working with the National and Provincial Departments of Health and other partners to increase vaccine confidence and to engage with young people on the broader COVID-19 response, through:

  • Launching the #MythorVax campaign with Tik Tok, ONE Campaign, and the African Union to help counter mis- and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Supporting UNICEF youth volunteers in leading the #GrandkidsforGogos campaign to assist the elderly with vaccine registration.
  • Engaging with communities through the UNICEF South Africa multimedia ‘Truck’ activation that brings COVID-19 messaging and health services direct to communities.
  • Developing and promoting the Zwakala campaign featuring youth role models who are actively calling for COVID-19 prevention and vaccination.
  • Working with community radio stations to actively engage young people in programming with open discussions about COVID-19 vaccines and broader issues.

Notes to editors:

U-Report is a free platform managed by UNICEF South Africa to encourage youth participation. The platform helps young people to have a voice on issues that matter to them and to access information, tools and services to influence positive social change.

Media contacts

Toby Fricker
Chief of Communication & Partnerships
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 61 418 7486
Sudeshan Reddy
Communication Specialist
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 82 561 3970


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in over 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special efforts on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children everywhere.

Working with a range of partners, UNICEF has had a presence in South Africa since the end of apartheid and continues to work towards bettering the lives of all children in the country.

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