Find strategies to encourage Covid-19 jab

Covid-19 vaccine

A woman receiving a Covid-19 jab. With the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic is gathering pace, are realising that the protection given to pharmaceutical companies under the treaty on intellectual property rights will prevent them from protecting the right to health of their citizens.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Only two per cent of Kenyans are vaccinated and the government is making plans to run campaigns so as to boost confidence in the vaccines and boost uptake.However, that alone might not be the solution. Many Kenyans are still not willing to get vaccinated let alone follow simple Covid-19 regulations. There are those who simply don’t want to get vaccinated for one reason or another — from not believing the Covid-19 risks or misinformation that has been widely shared, especially on social media.To have more people vaccinated, it is worth trying to talk to the three different groups of the population: The undecided, those who accept and those opposed to vaccines (anti-vaxxers).For the undecided, especially those interior communities who have to travel long distances to access medical care, it is vital that they get factual information.RisksTalk to them with compassion, telling them how the benefits outweigh the risks. Many people tend to take local authorities more seriously compared to listening to news on television and radio. Locational chiefs and medical professionals can work together to encourage vaccination.For the anti-vaxxers, shaming them will not work; they have a right to decide what they want. However, they should not be encouraged to work in close proximity to those who have been vaccinated. That may end up being counter-productive because, without proper precaution, the vaccinated can be reinfected.The decision not to be vaccinated is personal. However, we must understand that this is a contagious infection and whatever decision you make not only affects you but also those around you.Neutral adultsIn formal workplaces, those who refuse to be vaccinated can be given an option to work from home before they decide on the way forward so as to protect colleagues who are vaccinated. This might encourage people who have not got the jab to do so. Giving such workers a pay cut — since they won’t be physically at work, like their colleagues — may sway many anti-vaxxers into accepting to take the vaccine.The Health ministry, with the help of other organisations, can also reward those who are vaccinated. This is a creative way to nudge vaccine-receptive or vaccine-neutral adults. This can be in form coupons to help one save some money or even a pack of free face masks per household.With the growth of social media use, the ministry can also work with ‘influencers’ to encourage young adults to get vaccinated. People are quick to follow influencers. Besides, young adults might be hesitant partly because they perceive themselves to be at a lower risk than the elderly.Lastly, encouraging vaccine take-up might become more challenging but let us be ready to accept extra dosage if we are to have any hope of protecting our families and adapting to the pandemic before a cure is found.Jendrix Wekesa, Kisumu


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