VACCINATION

Vaccine hesitancy frustrating Covid-19 containment measures

There is need for public education and mass campaigns on the vaccine.

In Summary

•There is need for public education and mass campaigns on the vaccine.

•This includes through the media with expert information COVID-19 vaccines.

Nurse Abigail Owilla administers Covid-19 vaccine to a health worker at Mutuini Hospital in Dagoretti on March 9, 2021.
Nurse Abigail Owilla administers Covid-19 vaccine to a health worker at Mutuini Hospital in Dagoretti on March 9, 2021.
Image: FILE

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has once again shown the complexities that Africa experiences on many fronts as efforts are made to ensure access to social goods. On one hand, through various collaborative initiatives vaccines are made available to citizens as a way of saving lives on the continent, on the other, the vaccine uptake is frustrated by vaccine hesitancy among communities because of misconceptions and myths fueled by misinformation.

Kenya just like the rest other African countries has seen reluctance by some citizens to get vaccinated against COVID 19- thus experiencing vaccine hesitancy due to myths and lack of sufficient informationto the to the public. Access to multiple information sources including social media has facilitated the spread of misinformation and otherconspiracy theories.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified vaccine hesitancy as a leading global health threat to the success on war against COVID 19. Thus, in addition to the efforts being made around provision of vaccines, more is needed in terms of realizing a holistic approach including provision of the vaccines and other health tools to enhance uptake.

It’s reported that people with high levels of hesitancy are more likely to use social media and be exposed to disinformation leading to perceptions that the COVID-19 vaccines is less safe and effective than other vaccines. Kenyans have also cited other reasons for not being willing to be vaccinated as mistrust from the government, others did not believe that COVID-19 existed, that it will affect their health. There is need for global action to ensure demand generation, adoption of policies and practices on product introduction and equitable access to COVID-19 tools/health products globally.

There is need for public education and mass campaigns on the vaccine including through the media with expert information COVID 19 vaccines, understand the pros and cons of taking the vaccine so that they can share the right the information to their target audience to understand pertinent issues around COVID 19 vaccines to see a rise in the uptake of the vaccines in Kenya. With the right information in the public domain the Ministry of health will see an increase in the demand hence they will ensure that the supply of vaccine is available in the health facilities.

Global actors in the health sector such as Amref is running an advocacy campaign to end vaccine injustice in Africa despite the issue of hesitancy. More than twenty months into the COVID-19 pandemic, ten months after the first vaccines were administered in the UK, many African countries have not even received enough vaccines to vaccinate two percent of their populations. This means not even their health workers and most at risk populations have been vaccinated. The campaign by way of a petition is centered around a five-point plan to end the acute stage of the pandemic in Africa and ensure that by the end of the year 2021, at least 40% of people in all countries are vaccinated and 70% by mid-2022. 

The five-point campaign around ending vaccine stockpiles in rich countries before people in Africa and other parts of the world have also been vaccinated, haltingof large-scale rollout of booster shots until supply has reached Africa, share more vaccines urgently to less disadvantaged countries, share licenses, technology and know-how and waive IP for COVID-19 health technologies globally and calling that Africa must never again find itself in a position where it is so reliant on other countries for lifesaving medical supplies.

There is need for public education and mass campaigns on the vaccine including through the media with expert information COVID 19 vaccines, understand the pros and cons of taking the vaccine so that they can share the right the information to their target audience to understand pertinent issues around COVID 19 vaccines to see a rise in the uptake of the vaccines in Kenya. With the right information in the public domain the Ministry of health will see an increase in the demand hence they will ensure that the supply of vaccine is available in the health facilities.