COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says there seems to be a greater resistance among young people to receive COVID-19 vaccines, compared to adults.

In an interview, Fr Chikoya said the organisation undertook a survey and it was discovered that there was apprehension about the vaccines even among some medical students.

“I think the message to the church was that we don’t relax, we continue maintaining high levels of hygiene and lifestyle, not something reactive, [like] every time we have cholera we have washing facilities, observing all those health guidelines, it must be a lifestyle. So the message to the church is a reminder to the church that we have a responsibility to promote life. So basically, that’s the message. And we have to cooperate and work closely with the health authorities and avoid misinformation, myths and all these other things which have been prevailing. And encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated, I’m fully vaccinated, I was among those first people to be vaccinated. I even did my booster two weeks ago and I’m so I’m alive and okay,” Fr Chikoya said.

“We have catchment areas [where] we’ve been pioneering like in Kalingalinga, in those areas. Of course among the young people strangely that’s where the greatest resistance seems to be happening, while [for] adults it’s much more effective. Because we did some quick surveys and even in one of the medical schools, these are medical students, there was that kind of, you know, apprehension about the vaccines and if medical students are, you know then it’s a challenge.”

He said there was a lot of work that needed to be done to increase vaccine uptake among young people.

“There is a lot of work which needs to be done to the young people because they are the ones more mobile, they are everywhere and again they are the ones more active on social media, plus the wrong or right information that is found on social media. So they are packaging. I think in these catchment areas the clergy has been capacitated, they have been trying to do as much as they can, so those within our fraternity generally have been quite cooperative. And during Sunday services, messages were incorporated. We’ve actually produced a book that’s about to be just released on the issues of COVID-19 and some messages from religious leaders beyond just Council Churches of Zambia. So as [soon as] it is done it will be shared and it will be publicised just to contribute to the vaccine uptake,” said Fr Chikoya.