By John Isaac
THE federal government needs to work closely with all state governments to enhance Covid-19 vaccination education, said Bandar Kuching MP, Dr Kelvin Yii.
He said they need to put in place a comprehensive vaccine confidence campaign to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation regarding the vaccine to increase public confidence and acceptance to achieve the target of 70-80% herd immunity as fast as possible.
Though the first batch of Pfizer vaccines have already arrived in Malaysia, the vaccine itself won’t save lives, but vaccination will.
“That is why the real work is to make sure the vaccine is properly inoculated to the people that need it to give us all some form of protection against this deadly disease,” he said.
For that to happen, Dr Kelvin said proper and effective communication and education is very important.
This basic domain of public health plays a critical role in any 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,” he stressed.
The vaccine confidence campaign is so important to convince Malaysians that the Covid-19 vaccines that will soon be distributed are safe and effective.
With the age of social media, certain groups including “anti-vaxxer” groups have many avenues to spread propaganda or even misinformation to cast doubts on the safety & effectiveness of the vaccine.
“There are also members of the public who are not “anti-vaxxers”, but genuinely need 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,” said Dr Kelvin.
The state governments can play an important role especially in identifying all the different communities and groups in the State that are vulnerable and make the necessary translation into local languages.
“They can even turn them into creative videos or even materials to reach out to them so no one gets left behind,” he said.
On top of that, community leaders including “Tuai Rumah”, “Ketua Kampung”, Kapitan, JKKK, and even leaders in KRT play an important role to spread the right message to the community including community Whatsapp or social media groups.
“We must remember that if not all of us are protected, none of us will be protected,” he added.