AS the world feels caged by Coronavirus (COVID-19) and economies as well as social lives, in one way or another must have been affected since it started taking its toll in China, it is worth praising the World Health Organization (WHO) for constant fight with governments and now recommending vaccine.
The goal of the vaccine (a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease) is to keep people healthier longer, lower the risk of getting other diseases and in the realm of medicine, is one of the most powerful health interventions ever introduced to saves lives, whenever a pandemic rises.
Fine, it scientifically contains weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism (antigen) that triggers an immune response within the body and likely to save lives, but is the public first notified of this? As the government prepares to roll out voluntary Covid-19 vaccines in the public, it is important first that the same public is well informed of what a vaccine is.
How effective is it? Can I still get COVID-19 after the vaccine? What are the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? If these kinds of questions are not addressed by health professionals in public awareness campaigns, quacks and related ‘bushdoctors’, traditional healer, you name them will exploit the chance to confuse the public and take it as an opportunity to mint extra coins.
Equally, the ministry of health or any tasked institution should design an easy-to-use public/employee communication toolkit with information that will help Employers and Employees alike to educate, inform, and raise awareness among their staff-population and general public about the COVID-19 vaccine.
If we rush to start rollout without sending the right message to the targeted segments of the population that have higher risks of getting infected, definitely we shall be digging a hole, whose filling will cost us all.
The government and stakeholders, whether from the private or Non-Governmental Organizations should thoroughly educate the public, before the major rollout so that people have trust in the vaccine as necessary.
This brief addresses the role of governments in promoting confidence in the effectiveness and safety through effective communication, as well as trust in their ability to procure and distribute them efficiently and equitably.
While only a small minority of the population might hold strong anti-vaccination views, hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccination will be evident and this might be a teething problem that can also be reversed by thorough awareness campaign in the public.