Addressing vaccine hesitancy: need to urgently tackle myths, misinformation

ZIMBAMBWE needs to urgently address the Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy that is discouraging ordinary people from taking up the life-saving jabs at a time the number of people dying from the contagious disease continues to surge on a daily basis. The number of people dying daily, about a 100 a day, is horrific and must be stopped forthwith through proactive measures by government, communities and other able stakeholders.

The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) is worried that people continue to die because they are reluctant to receive the free inoculations because of the widely- held myths, misconception as well as misinformation peddled mainly through the social media that the vaccines are not safe. The rate of vaccine uptake in some communities is frightening low and it calls for urgent proactive actions to encourage people to freely accept vaccination. In wake of this hesitancy and the mounting deaths, the CWGH would like to call on the government to urgently institute national Covid-19 vaccine literacy programmes to specifically debunk the myths and deconstruct the misinformation that has resulted in unnecessary deaths in the country. CWGH has established that a number of people still believe the vaccines can result in serious health complications later, death or infertility, theories that have been proven false.

This can also be achieved if the government works closely with trusted and influential sources of information which include community leaders such a traditional leaders, teachers, businesspeople, pastors and community-based organizations that have been sources of credible information for the local people for a long time. People believe what
they get from people or sources they trust. CWGH would like to call upon all influential people and community-based organizations to influence their people in their communities to accept and embrace vaccines because they are not toxic as claimed by purveyors of false information. People have a tendency to believe what they read on social media which in most cases would not be true.

This is no time to play politics or gaining religious advantages by exploiting people’s ignorance or mistrust of certain issues. One life lost is one too many as vaccines are safe, effective an save lives As an organization deeply rooted in the communities, CWGH has established that community leadership in an aspect of life is an important contributor to social development. Elected officials and community leaders play significant roles in times of disasters like the Covid-19 pandemic in both receiving and delivering messages and information. Apart from releasing regular information to the general public, CWGH would like to urge the government, through the various Covid-19 committees, to give regular briefs and updates to the community leaders, who would act as ambassadors and champions in the fight against the pandemic.

We would want to reiterate that community leaders are valuable sources of information and government agencies must always seek to create a relationship with them to facilitate the exchange of information. The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) is a network of national membership based civil society and community based organizations who aim to collectively enhance community participation in health in Zimbabwe.

Itai Rusike (Mr)
Executive Director

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH)
4 O’connor Crescent, Cranborne, Eastlea, Harare, Zimbabwe

Mobile: +263 77236 3991
Tel: +263-4-573285|573286
“Health is Your Right and Responsibility”