NOW that the government has received vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the government and health authorities are now facing quite a big challenge: the disinformation on vaccines.
There is a lot of disinformation regarding vaccines going around the internet. Individuals who are keen on spreading disinformation seem to have been working double-time to get their message across. As a result, legitimate and science-based sources are being drowned out by the spread of disinformation.
Aside from those who are anti-vaccines (Anti-vaxxers), the aftermath of the Dengvaxia scare has also resulted in reservations among many Filipinos.
The government has been constantly posting on social media education and information materials on vaccines. Most of the materials are detailed, some in Filipino and others are presented as infographics.
Government and health officials are also regularly seen in large media outfits to talk about the vaccines. Their messages are written or broadcasted by news outfits of different mediums.
However, are the government and health officials doing enough to put a stop to the spread of disinformation when it comes to Covid-19? A quick look on social media shows that there are still individuals who still do not understand the concept of vaccines. These individuals are easily swayed by those spreading disinformation.
Also, the masses, in general, are not able to immediately access legitimate and scientific-based information. Coupled with that are the scientific jargons that are not easy for many to fully understand.
Hence, it is important for the government and health officials to go down to the grassroots to explain the vaccines and the vaccination program. The government has done several communication campaigns on polio, dengue, and measles that were cascaded to the barangay level and proved to be effective. Therefore, they can do it when it comes to communicating Covid-19 and vaccine.
What could also be done is localizing communication strategies to better communicate the vaccine to the people. This means maximizing the unit handling communications in the Department of Health or that of the local government unit.
To be able to vaccinate more people, not only does the government need to procure the vaccines, but there is also a need for the government to persuade people to get the vaccine. But the rampant spread of disinformation is a big challenge to get people vaccinated. Hence, it is now key for the government and health officials to properly and effectively communicate matters about the vaccine.