Govt combats rumour-mongering about vaccines
New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) “Kuch to log kahengay, logon ka kaam hai kehna,” the Union Health Ministry said in one of the creative posters released on Thursday to bring about vaccine awareness in a bid to combat rumour-mongering and allay hesitancy amongst the healthcare workers.
Hesitancy among the frontline health workers, who are being inoculated on priority, has been witnessed pan-India. It is being attributed to doubts over the safety of the prematurely approved Covaxin vaccine and adverse events in some people following immunisation.
In a handful of posters, the Ministry urged the reluctant beneficiaries to not pay heed to the rumours about the vaccines. Even during the anti-polio drive, the government had run similar campaigns. ‘Do boond zindagi ki’ still resonates in every Indian’s head.
One of the posters featured a famous song from 1972 Bollywood blockbuster Amar Prem and read, “Kuch to log kahengay, logon ka kaam hai kehna…” Other posters read, “Bimari se dare, teeke se nahi” and “Let us fight rumour mongering.”
The poster also included quotes of prominent health officials like All India Institute of Medical Sciences director Randeep Guleria, Niti Aayog Member V.K. Paul, Indian Council of Medical Research Chief Balram Bhargava and many more.
“The vaccine our regulators have approved are safe and effective. We must trust them. They will not allow any unsafe vaccine to be administered to Indian population,” Randeep Guleria was quoted as saying in one of the posters.
In another, V.K. Paul was quoted saying, “We should not refuse the vaccine. When you receive vaccine, which is now assigned to you, you protect yourself and perform your functions without feat of contracting Covid. You protect your family.”
The Health Ministry has also planned to rope in celebrities, faith leaders, media, RWAs in a bid to build trust and enable confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine amongst people and to disseminate accurate and transparent information.
According to an official document, the government aims to achieve this through three strategies — first by using the social influence or endorsements from experts and official voices, establishment of a National Media Rapid Response Cell and involving community mobilisers and frontline workers to engage with the community.
Three platforms will be used to disseminate information, which includes celebrities from the entertainment industry, sports and politics, influencers like local leaders, faith leaders, social cultural leaders, panchayat leaders and teachers. Frontline workers will also be roped in.
In total, the central government aims to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people initially. Priority has been given to healthcare and frontline workers who are estimated to be around three crores, 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with comorbidities such as diabetes, heart or liver ailments.
Till now, Oxford’s Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin have been used to inoculate 7,86,842 beneficiaries.