Hurdles on creating effective vaccine campaigns against COVID-19

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Eulália Santos Gomes, 23 years old, a 3rd-year medical student of the University Center of Valença in Valença, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The world has been facing a huge health crisis due to the pandemic of covid-19, nevertheless, fortunately, it also has experienced great achievement in science, the development of a vaccine in the time one year. However, even though the vaccines are ready to be applied, we have another challenge, namely, to urge the population via vaccination campaigns about their importance considering that there are a lot of people that don’t intend to take the vaccine.

Particularly, Brazil has a bad historic related to vaccination, in 1904 Rio de Janeiro faced the “Revolta da Vacina” (vaccination rebellion) whose forced vaccination was the decisive event for the start of a rebellion of poor people (including ex-slaves) whose citizenship was practically denied for the government¹. Furthermore, nowadays the Anti-vaccine movement has increased and we can see a lot of parents refusing to vaccinate their children due to fake news telling that vaccines are dangerous for their children’s health or that it is better for the immune system to contract a disease².

Brazil has a very dramatic problem related to fake news, it all got worse with the actual president, Jair Bolsonaro, that has kept his electoral campaign based on manipulation and disinformation aiming to persuade the population³, during the pandemic, he showed himself as a denier, and so all his electorate whom now spread false information about vaccines, thus, it is almost impossible having an effective vaccination campaign came from a government like this.

Moreover, vaccination campaigns take time and money from governments, things that lack in the time we are living in, especially in the poorest countries.

Hence, it is known that governments and social media are taking actions to control fake news like promoting “media and information literacy” for the ones who have difficulties navigating the internet and also promoting education to make users critics so they can recognize fake news, taking actions through laws, etc4.

In Brazil, unfortunately, we can’t count on the government, otherwise, there is another tool that vaccination campaigns can use and have great results, it is by using popular culture to achieve a sanitary conscience5. The Butantan Institute, a public institution of research from São Paulo that developed one of the vaccines that will be applied in Brazil (CoronaVac) used “Funk”, a very popular musical genre in our country, as a vaccination campaign, we hope it works.

References

  1. WESTIN, Ricardo. Interesses políticos e descaso social alimentaram Revolta da Vacina em 1904. Agência Senado. Brasília – Df, out. 2020. Disponível em: https://www12.senado.leg.br/noticias/especiais/arquivo-s/interesses-politicos-e-descaso-social-alimentaram-revolta-da-vacina. Acesso em: 24 jan. 2021.
  2.  WESTIN, Ricardo. Fake news sabotaram vacinação no império. Jornal do Senado (Agência Senado). Brasília – Df, p. 4-4. 7 out. 2019. Disponível em: https://www12.senado.leg.br/jornal/edicoes/2019/10/07/jornal.pdf. Acesso em: 24 jan. 2021.
  3. BARRAGÁN, Almudena. Cinco “fake news” que beneficiaram a candidatura de Bolsonaro. El País. 19 out. 2018. Disponível em: https://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2018/10/18/actualidad/1539847547_146583.html. Acesso em: 24 jan. 2021.
  4. KALSNES, Bente. Fake News. Oxford Research Encyclopedia Of Communication, [S.L.], 26 sept. 2018. Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.809. Available from: https://oxfordre.com/communication/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228613-e-809. Access on: 24 jan. 2021.
  5. GARCIA, M. R. A.; LIMA, E. Poder público nas campanhas de vacinação em massa no Brasil. Ciência, Cuidado e Saúde, v. 1, n. 1, p. 049-054, 7 nov. 2008.

About the author

Eulália Santos Gomes, 23 years old, is a 3rd-year medical student of the University Center of Valença in Valença, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is alocal coordinator of IFMSA Brazil Unifaa. She loves being involved in political and social movements and study politics and feminism. 

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