The federal government should work closer with all 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.
This is important if we want to increase public confidence and acceptance in order to achieve the target of 70 to 80 per cent herd immunity nationwide as fast as possible.
The first batch of Pfizer vaccines arrived in Malaysia on February 21, but the vaccine itself won’t save lives — vaccination will.
For mass vaccination to happen, effective communication and education are very important. If people lack understanding of or do not have enough information about the vaccine, they might be hesitant to undergo vaccination.
The vaccine confidence campaign is important to convince the public that the vaccines are safe and effective. The rakyat should be kept informed of the efficacy, safety, high quality and permissibility of the vaccines. This would help to improve vaccine confidence and acceptance, especially among vaccine-hesitant individuals.
Anti-vaxxer groups can spread misinformation and cast doubt on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. There are also members of the public who genuinely require more information about the vaccine. Many of their concerns are understandable, and more material based on data and science should be made available to allay some of these concerns.
State governments must identify vulnerable communities and groups within their states and convey the necessary information, including doing translations whenever these are a need, to ensure that everyone understands the vaccination programme.
Community leaders such as tuai rumah, ketua kampung and kapitan also play an important role in spreading the right message to their respective communities.
We must all be information frontliners in order to get the right message out to the public. Whenever there are social media messages that convey the wrong information about vaccination, we must counter them and allay any suspicions.
We must remember that if not all of us is protected, none of us will be protected.
Dr Kelvin Yii is the Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching.
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