AN online media vaccination awareness campaign being run by HealthTimes through support from the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has reduced vaccine hesitancy and seen more people taking vaccination over the past two months.
By Staff Reporter
The campaign running under the theme “Help Stop The COVID-19 Pandemic, Get Vaccinated Today” is being run mainly through the HealthTimes WhatsApp platforms and other HealthTimes media platform such as the Twitter, Facebook and the news website, has taken the market by storm and generated interest across the social divide.
In an interview with HealthTimes, CWGH Executive Director, Mr Itai Rusike said the partnership which started two months ago has been amazing and has drawn more Zimbabwean citizens towards getting vaccinated.
Given that the campaign is not one of those big budget campaigns, i can say the impact for this partnership has been huge. We get all sorts of queries because of the information that being shared everyday especially on vaccine availability and access to vaccines. We hope this is just the beginning but there is always a start and I hope our collaboration will eventually be consolidated.
“Its amazing juts how this partnership has really caught the attention of so many stakeholders. Almost every day, I get calls from high offices inquring about the vaccine situation the same with some donor agencies. Most importantly, it has been the impact at community level where we share through our various network platforms and it has generated a lot of interest and people are now keen to get vaccinated,” said Mr Rusike.
Since the campaign started a number of Zimbabwean citizens have joined the numerous HealthTimes WhatsApp groups where the daily and updated information about centers offering vaccines is updated every morning.
Speaking on the partnership, Mr Michael Gwarisa, the HealthTimes Editor said the campaign was their way of complementing government vaccination efforts through providing timely updates on the vaccination situation in the country as well as demystify some of the myths around vaccines.
“First of all, we must appreciate that WhatsApp has become the biggest media and source of information. The world over, Billions of people are on WhatsApp and at the click of a button, someone in the United Kingdom can access information from Zimbabwe or anywhere in the world.
“During these pandemic times, we also note that information gaps are still prevalent and by taking part in these daily updates on vaccination, we are playing our part in ensuring people take vaccination and they don’t struggle or spend time moving from one place to another in search of centers offering jabs,” said Mr Gwarisa.
He also paid tribute to the CWGH for agreeing to partner HealthTimes on the campaign which he says has not only reached many, but has saved lives through pointing people towards vaccination.
Meanwhile, As part of its mandate to promote health literacy among communities, CWGH has partnered with the Chitungwiza Municipality and supported by the Embassy of France to train school health coordinators and community health workers so that they could further raise awareness on, and strengthen the response to Covid-19 in schools and surrounding communities.
CWGH noted that there was vaccine hesitancy in Chitungwiza as people feared perceived side effects that were being peddled through social media. However, equipped with correct information and assurance there was a rush for vaccination resulting in increased uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in the town.