PSYCHOLOGICAL THERAPY

Reassurance will end Covid vaccine apathy

In Summary
  • Remind citizens that of the 2.5 million global Covid-19 deaths, there have been no confirmed Covid-19 vaccine-related deaths
  • Those who are wondering at how fast the vaccine was developed also need reassurance
Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o receives the Covid-19 vaccine jab on Thursday.
Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o receives the Covid-19 vaccine jab on Thursday.
Image: MAURICE ALAL

Covid-19 vaccination has got off to a slow start not only in Kenya but also in many other African countries.

A recent MoH compilation, Our World in Data as at March 13, 2021, shows that only Seychelles has reached a 63 per cent mark of those vaccinated against its total population of 96,000 people. Morocco followed with 12 per cent, equivalent to 5.4 million of its 37 million people. Other countries have reported dismal figures of those taking the jab.

In Kenya, like in many other African countries, priority was given to frontline workers but the exercise has not been as successful as was expected. A close observation shows that not all frontline workers who are qualified to be vaccinated have received it.

While some of those who have taken it have reported mild body chills, muscle pain or headache on the same day or a day after receiving the jab, those who are yet to be vaccinated need reassurance.

Reassurance is a psychological therapy that is commonly used by healthcare workers in restoring confidence and having apprehensions, fear or anxiety dispelled from the mind of those infected or affected.

To start with, it is prudent to remind citizens that of the 2.5 million global Covid-19 deaths, there have been no confirmed Covid-19 vaccine-related deaths. Use such statistics to reassure the population that taking the vaccine prevents severe disease attack, hospitalisations and prevents Covid-related complications or deaths.

Involve the media in vaccination awareness. If possible host healthcare workers and reserve space on print media on the subject and get feedback. Clarify whether the viral mutations or variants can affect vaccinated people and how, if any.

Since WHO says the approved vaccines have been made in countries with very good safety and monitoring pharmaceutical vigilance systems, clarify on the pertinent issues raised by Kenya Catholic Doctors Association.

Clarify on not only the reasons but also the motive for the vaccination. Those who are wondering at how fast the vaccine was developed also need reassurance.

Address those allergic to eggs and chicken and the earlier sentiments on the same. Engage religious organisations and leaders in reaching out to the population. Clarify that the vaccine is not on trial or a temporary containment measure but that it has been formally approved for general use. Talk of the viability of the vaccine.  Explain its long-term effects.

Clarify on the fate of those countries who have suspended the use of AstraZeneca jab due to the alleged side effects. Although taking the vaccine is voluntary, those in the forefront of the campaign against Covid-19 should receive the vaccine publicly as did President Joe Biden among other prominent leaders.

Involve the media in vaccination awareness. If possible host healthcare workers and reserve space on print media on the subject and get feedback. Clarify whether the viral mutations or variants can affect vaccinated people and how, if any.

Finally, emphasise that the vaccination is free and voluntary.

Communication and PR professional