“Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence populations around the world, the development and distribution of vaccines offer relief. However, the overall success of the global vaccination program will depend on where, and how, information about the vaccines’ safety and efficacy is communicated. It will also depend on engagement with, and by, the public.”
By Ms. Irene Musila
Vaccine hesitancy is, in part, a social information problem
Vaccines are one of the most important achievements of modern medicine. However, their acceptance is only partial. In 2020, the WHO listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to world health. With regards to COVID-19, there is concern globally that vaccine hesitancy might jeopardise reaching the levels of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity.
Ending the COVID-19 pandemic will require unprecedented collective action. In addition to strategies such as social distancing, hand washing, sanitising and wearing masks, the global population must choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Consequently, communication that encourages vaccine uptake have critically important implications for public health.
Social media is a significant source of health and medical information
Healthcare organisations can use various communication methods like social media and blogs to spread awareness about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines. Social media is especially critical in sharing data on the safety and efficacy of authorised vaccines, which can encourage individuals to get vaccinated.
Social media is equally efficient at spreading information as misinformation and it allows transparency and social conversations around public health. With so much information being released every single minute, vaccination misinformation is also prevalent on social media. It has the potential to decrease public confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.