The Pan American Health Organization / UNICEF campaign, “Covid19 vaccines bring us closer. Choose to get vaccinated,” tackles the problem of vaccine reluctance in the Caribbean. The campaign includes TV, radio and social media components that are available on the PAHO website.
PAHO Information Specialist Brenda Lashley said campaign material can be downloaded from the website and shared on social media, including WhatsApp.
“PSAs, videos and social media cards can be shared across all networks, on TV and radio. We have provided the scripts for the news so that advertisers, influencers, media houses and others can record the news in their own voices and dialects. If users need to resize any of the components for easier transmission, they can contact us. “
Speaking at Friday’s virtual launch, PAHO / WHO Representative in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr Yitades Gebre, said the covid19 pandemic was joined by an infodemic, an information overload , good and bad, which could be harmful to health.
“Informed and educated communications are the foundation for the arrival of vaccines, tests and treatments that would reduce the spread of covid19 and save lives. We must ensure access to reliable information, and ensure that rumors and disinformation are checked nationally, as they can be as dangerous as covid19, and promote safe and effective communication. WHO has been following the global conversation on covid19 to detect the first signs of growing interest in public engagement. Reluctance to vaccine hampers vaccine deployment. The campaign, which is based on data, perceptions and behaviors, will help tackle misinformation and vaccine reluctance and lead to greater uptake of vaccines in the region. This is the only way to overcome this pandemic. “
UNICEF Representative Dr Aloys Kamuragiye said vaccine reluctance is still a major problem among people in Caribbean countries and territories.
“We can only achieve herd immunity with 60 to 70 percent of our vaccinated populations. We can never have too much information to convince people of the vaccine. UNICEF helps countries tailor their campaigns to their people. I would like to reiterate UNICEF’s offer of technical and financial communication support to increase vaccine uptake. “
Grenadian Health Minister Nicholas Steele said the Caribbean had faced significant challenges since the start of the pandemic, but had overcome them by admitting threats and shortcomings and tackling them head-on. He hopes that reluctance to vaccinate will be the last hurdle the Caribbean will have to overcome to tackle covid19.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health, Welfare and Environment Molwyn Joseph said reluctance to immunize and lack of understanding of public health measures indicated a larger problem in the region – that of lack of education. He said he hoped the campaign would result in greater recognition that educating people is as important as drugs.
Dr Darlene Omeir, PAHO Advisor for Family and Community Health, said that while the vaccination campaign was relatively new in the Caribbean, overall the Caribbean countries have a relatively higher rate of doses applied. per 100 people compared to the rest of the world.
“However, more efforts are needed to achieve herd immune coverage. There are challenges related to declining public demand as well as lack of access to vaccines. “
Drs Lisa McClean Trotman and Lisa Bayley of UNICEF and PAHO respectively said the campaign was organized after a review of social media posts showed there were many myths about vaccines which led to reluctance to vaccinate. They said PAHO and UNICEF recognize that the pandemic has had a negative impact on all sectors of society in the Caribbean. They said that for UNICEF, children were some of the silent victims of covid19 due to the impact on their families, education and social life, among others.
The campaign can be viewed at https://www.paho.org/en/campaigns/covid-19-vaccines-bring-us-closer-choose-get-vaccinated.