Vaccination hesitancy in the COVID-19 pandemic

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Pierre Claver Rusingizandekwe, a Rwandan medical student in Bachelor of dental surgery in University of Rwanda. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

According to the Newyork times,66.8% received the first dose worldwide,20.3% of Africans were vaccinated. However the WHO vaccination target is 70% worldwide by the end of 2022. On the top of this slow progress, there is vaccine hesitancy. Nations need effective ways to address vaccine hesitancy.

According to the SAGE Working Group on Vaccine hesitancy refers to the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services. Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context specific, varying across time, place and vaccines.

Vaccine hesitancy may be influenced by different factors including: culture, religious belief, illiteracy, vaccine delivery structure and fake news.

Fake news,pandemic had long been there before but covid-19 has its speciality: technology, which has expedited the rate at which people resisted vaccination.

However,There is one country in Africa that has excelled in all W.H.O targets, and its achievements were due to the efforts to fight against vaccine hesitancy.

And I believe the methods used can be applicable to any nation too.

  • The proper usage  of social media, Radio and TVs to educate and communicate to the community.

During the period of pandemic there is a lot of fake news and pressure in the community,for a nation to fight against the vaccine hesitancy, needs to address fake news from unprofessional content creators,so that the public follow the set standard of protection.

Officials have interacted with the community  directly and indirectly through phone calls and press conferences where people asked the questions in any way and got the answer immediately. This annihilated any form of chaos which up rooted any hesitancy.

  • Creation of the sense of responsibility.

Every citizen in this country feels responsible to look after for covid-19 measures and regulations. You could recognize this through different influencers, who have played a key role in the campaign against covid-19. I believe,if any nation commits to this program the hesitancy would be eradicated.

  • The equal distribution of covid-19 vaccine.

This country has started with people in the risky zone and those unable to access the vaccine due to body weakness, the healthcare providers bring the vaccines in  their homes. And this amazing country is RWANDA.

In most countries the vaccine hesitancy was exacerbated by religious beliefs.

In Rwanda, the Pastors, priests and sheikhs  were used too! in mobilization.

The above categories interact with almost 95% on a weekly basis.This gives citizens a chance to acquire knowledge needed to increase their understanding.

  • Opposition parties interaction.

In other countries,  opposition parties sometimes oppose things irrespective of whether it is good or bad.

 Rwanda has got information from all sides encouraging the citizens to take vaccines. This complement has strongly eradicated vaccine hesitancy in the citizens.

The African Union has the task to make the vaccine available to the African country.

The delay in vaccination makes people think that covid-19 vaccine is for some people which will later turn into vaccine hesitancy.

To eradicate covid-19 requires a collective effort and this can be achieved only if we share expertise and experiences.

About the author

PIERRE CLAVER RUSINGIZANDEKWE is Rwandan medical student in Bachelor of dental surgery in University of Rwanda. He had received his primary education in GASHANDA sector. His Ordinary level from Ecole Secondary KABIRIZI in Eastern province of Rwanda. He took his advanced level in Physics, Chemistry and Biology ( PCB) and pursue his education in University of Rwanda. Claver served as a representative of the National commission for children(NCC) in his community for six years and he has participated as a voice for others throughout his education at different positions. Claver aspires to live in the community where no category is left behind.

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