The Federal Government should work closer with all the State Governments to ramp up “Covid-19 Vaccination Education” and put in place a comprehensive vaccine confidence campaign in order to address vaccine hesitancy and even misinformation regarding the vaccine especially if we want to increase public confidence and acceptance in order to achieve our target of 70-80% for herd immunity nationwide as fast as possible.
Even though the first batch of Pfizer Vaccine has already arrived on the shores of Malaysia on the 21st February 2021, but the vaccine itself won’t save lives, but vaccination will. That is why the real work starts to make sure that the vaccine is properly inoculated into the people that needs it in order to give us all some form of protection against this deadly disease.
For that to happen, proper and effective communications and education is very important. This basic domain of public health plays a critical role in any public health crisis as it allows the public to understand the policies and operations of the government.
“If the people don’t understand or don’t have enough information about the vaccine, they may be sceptical to be vaccinated.
The vaccine confidence campaign is so important to convince the Malaysian public that the Covid-19 vaccines that will soon be distributed are safe and effective. The rakyat should be kept well informed of the efficacy, safety, high quality and permissibility of the vaccines. This would help to improve vaccine confidence and acceptance especially among the vaccine hesitant individuals.
We cannot assume that the Malaysian public or even the frontliners are already convinced that they should take whatever vaccine which will be made available to them.
With the age of social media, certain groups including “anti-vaxxer” groups has much avenues to spread certain propaganda or even misinformation to cast doubts on the safety & effectiveness of the vaccine in order to convince their friends and the public to not take the vaccine.
There are also members of public who are not “anti-vaxxer”, but genuinely needs more information and education on the vaccine itself. Many of their concerns and questions are understandable and that is why more material based on data and science should be made easily available for them to allay some of their concerns.
That is how the State Governments can play an important role especially in identifying all the different communities and groups in the State that is vulnerable and then make the necessary translation all these information into local languages, and even turning them into creative videos or even materials to reach out to them so that no one gets left behind.
On top of that, community leaders including “Tuai Rumah”, “Ketua Kampung”, Kapitan, JKKK, and even leaders in KRT plays an important to spread the right message to the community including in community Whatsapp or social media.
We all play a role to be “Information Front Liners” especially to get right message backed by science and data out to the community. In the event we get a message or video that spread wrong information on Whatsapp or social media, we can then also properly counter them and educate the people around us on the benefits of the vaccine.
We must remember that if not all of us is protected, none of us will be protected.