A research conducted by the Health Promotion Unit (HPU) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and UNICEF Ghana shows that access to information on the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine is high but most people do not find it easy to distil the right information.
According to the research, the adult population, frontline security personnel, essential workers, teachers and some religious leaders did not have enough information on the COVID-19 vaccine to enable them to convince the populace on the vaccination exercise.
Therefore, at a media training via zoom on Tuesday, the media were called upon to help in disseminating positive information on the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in three out of the 16 regions of the country.
According to the research which was presented by the Communication for Development Specialist and Unit Head, UNICEF Ghana, Ms Anastasiia Nurzhynska, said aside from the groups mentioned above, many others also expressed concerns about the vaccine and further analysis by the researchers showed that their concerns boiled down to issues on safety, efficacy and knowledge gaps about the vaccine.
Although according to the research, most people expressed willingness to take the vaccine if eligible despite the concerns, some religious leaders who were key influencers were not willing to take the vaccine with the predominant reasons being that of safety and the knowledge gap around the vaccine and how it works.
So far, more than 300,000 people have been vaccinated since the COVID-19 mass vaccination programme started on March 2, 2021 with the country receiving about 700,000 vaccines for the programme.
The media training was to help strengthen the capacity of journalists to deliver information and respond to questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
On rumour management and the response strategy, a Health Promotion Specialist, Mr Jerry Fiave, said the training was to help the participating journalists appreciate the impact of rumours on vaccination programmes, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
He said it was also to intensify and reaffirm their dedication for evidence-based reportage as well as empower them to address rumours about the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to him, reporting about health was reporting about evidence and, therefore, called on journalists to check and re-check their facts before reporting on them.
On why Ghanaians needed to be vaccinated, a Health Promotion Specialist, Mr Kisses Johnson Ahortor, said the number of cases of COVID-19 in Ghana was rising too quickly, and the number of deaths had gone beyond projection.
Therefore, he said, the vaccine would give additional protection against the disease by building the body’s natural defences, that is the immune system, to recognise and fight off the virus that caused COVID-19.