Demystifying myths on Covid-19 vaccine

Demystifying myths on Covid-19 vaccine

There was dead silence as 17-year-old Alinafe Daniel from Mpatsa Youth Group in Phalombe District narrated her fears about getting Covid-19 vaccine.

Her fears emanated from strange rumours surrounding the vaccine and the disease.

A woman gets her Covid-19 jab during the Ministry of Health door-to-door campaign

“I feared damaging my uterus because those who received it purportedly would not bear children in future. It is rumoured that the vaccine is associated with hidden birth control mechanisms to reduce population growth,” she said.

Alinafe told a dialogue meeting with the Applied Development Communication and Training Services (Adecots) at Mpatsa Health Centre.

She observed that Covid-19 was embroiled in myths and misconceptions, making it hard for people to trust the vaccine.

Social media was also blamed for spreading misinformation. 

But Health Surveillance Assistant (HSA) for the area Henry Kadzuwa was quick to dispel the myths and misconceptions, urging the youth to consult and seek right information from relevant authorities.  

Susan Sikweya from Nkhumba Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Nkhumba said she did not receive the vaccine because of death rumours.

“I heard that those who received the Covid-19 vaccine would die within two years, their heads swell or get a disability. That scared me, but with time, I did not witness anyone dying or having the propagated side effects after getting the vaccine,” he said.

Godfrey Kamanga from Mtambanyama Village of T/A Khwethemule in Thyolo District attributed his reluctance to get the Covid-19 vaccine to systematic withdraw of preventive measures against the pandemic such as wearing face masks and social distancing.  

“Everyone was afraid of contracting Covid-19 two years ago when frequent deaths and positive tests were reported.  Mandatory wearing of facial masks was being enforced.

But these are not longer there, signifying the pandemic is managed. So why should we get the vaccine now?” wondered Kamanga.

He also attributed people’s reluctance to conflicting information by some politicians who denounce the existence of the disease.

Kamanga said this resulted in many people in his area believing that Covid-19 is not real.

He urged politicians to avoid politicising public health emergencies as this puts majority of lives, particularly illiterate people in the village, at risk.

Adecots findings from the community dialogues revealed that fear of death, misinformation, myths and misconceptions were some of the key factors preventing people from getting Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking during one of the community dialogues held at T/A Khwethemule headquarters in Thyolo district, Adecots executive director Mercy Simbi urged community leaders to take action against Covid-19.

“Statistics indicate that Thyolo and Phalombe have low uptake of the vaccine. As part of our activities, we organised these dialogue meetings with community leaders, men, women and youth groups to get insights on the Covid-19 vaccination campaign which we rolled out in the two districts,” she said.

Simbi, therefore, said the campaign is addressing such underlying issues.

Speaking during a multi-stakeholder consultative workshop to design Covid-19 messages, Ministry of Health deputy director of community and reventive health Dr. Kondwani Mamba said people at risk of Covid-19 require clear, accurate, relevant and timely information that addresses fears, myths and misconceptions to increase the uptake of its vaccine.

“Therefore, this workshop is a vital platform to rethink our approaches. We need to understand the behaviour drivers that are still making people hesitant to receive the vaccine in our communities. This will surely help us come up with effective risk communication and community engagement to spark positive behaviours,” he said

Ministry of Health senior health preventive officer Alvin Chidothi-Phiri said Malawi registered 89 594 cases of Covid-19, 2 687 deaths and 86 617 recovered cases of as of February 21 2024.

He said vaccination status as of March 18 2024 was at 34 percent (with 10 075 030 doses received, 8 988 214 doses administered and 46 doses administered per 100 population.

This was against the national target of 19 351 892 eligible population.

According to a district integrated Tipewe Cholera and Covid-19 vaccination campaign, Thyolo registered 2 120 while Phalombe 880 number of people aged 18 years and above who have received Covid-19 vaccine first dose as of March 18  2024.

And in terms of number of people aged 18 and above who have received Covid-19 vaccine booster dose as of 18 March 2024, Thyolo is at 3 122 and Phalombe at 1 235 people.

The post Demystifying myths on Covid-19 vaccine first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Demystifying myths on Covid-19 vaccine appeared first on Nation Online.