MOST populations can be divided into three broad groups with regard to their attitudes towards Covid-19 vaccines: those who refuse to get vaccinated (32%), those who embrace vaccines (24%) and those who are unsure (44%).
It is this last cluster that scholars call the “moveable middle”.
In Namibia, the moveable middle is the largest of the three clusters and is therefore the most important cluster in achieving herd immunity through vaccination. Unless the moveable middle can be convinced to get vaccinated, chances of the nation achieving herd immunity are slim, if not impossible.
If, to some extent at least, the moveable middle holds the future of vaccination success in this country in their hands, what do we do about them? Who are they? What do they do? Where do they live? Perhaps most importantly, how will vaccination campaigns reach them?
The first important fact about the moveable middle is that the majority (57%) are positive leaning. They are “somewhat likely” to get vaccinated.
Secondly, unlike the vaccine refusers that are mainly women (54%), and vaccine accepters that are mainly men (58%), the moveable middle has no significant gender gap. Men and women make up equal parts of the moveable middle.
Thirdly, the majority of the moveable middle (57%) live in urban areas.
Fourthly, the majority (69%) are between 18 and 35 years old.
Fifth, social media and internet news sources are the most frequently used platforms to access news. Vaccine campaign designers will thus do well using these sources to reach the moveable middle.
One area in which the moveable middle is different from vaccine refusers and vaccine accepters is that they were less affected personally by both the health and economic impact of the pandemic thus far.
The moveable middle has less economic and health experience than the other two groups which may help to explain why they are undecided about getting the Covid-19 vaccines.
Given the enormity of the health impact of the current wave, one positive outcome may be that it will contribute to convince undecided individuals to get vaccinated. But this type of experience is a very heavy price to pay. We need to find a cheaper way.
* Christie Keulder is a researcher at the Survey Warehouse.