Two teams from the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs will present their COVID-related work at a virtual meeting Thursday, sponsored by UNICEF, USAID, WHO and others, on generating demand for and improving confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.
The goal of the COVID-19 Vaccine Demand Global Event is to convene policymakers, demand promotion and Risk Communication and Community Engagement practitioners, researchers and stakeholders to highlight examples of proven policy, vaccine demand and RCCE interventions.
“There remains an urgent need to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine uptake in low-income countries,” according to the event’s invitation. “Only 50 countries have met the WHO target of 70 percent vaccination coverage for COVID-19, the majority of which are high-income countries. Low-income countries have meanwhile only vaccinated slightly over 10 percent of their populations.”
CCP’s Breakthrough ACTION team in Côte d’Ivoire will discuss its experience creating monitoring system to identify key rumors – and misinformation – about COVID, and then the intensive public communication efforts used to address them. CCP’s Breakthrough ACTION team in Bangladesh will showcase its work using trusted community radio voices to reach vaccine-resistant groups, such as elderly, rural and poor populations.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the rumor monitoring system aggregates and summarizes rumors sourced from community informants, social media and a national hotline. Along with creating campaigns based on countering harmful rumors, the team trained journalists to counter specific rumors and misinformation related to the COVID-19 vaccine, and to publish accurate information. The team also developed an intensive national radio campaign around the December 2021 holiday period addressing misinformation and encouraging continued prevention behaviors.
The success of this effort is measured by the total number of people vaccinated. In late October 2021, the number of vaccine doses administered was more than 3.2 million. By the end of the year, more than 52 million Ivoirians – that’s 36 percent of eligible adults – had received at least one dose, much higher than the average of 14 percent in other African nations.
In Bangladesh, vaccine hesitancy has been high, with just 18 percent of eligible people registering to receive a vaccine. Meanwhile, the number of COVID cases has also been high, with nearly two million confirmed cases through May 2022.
On Thursday, CCP’s Kazi Faisal Mahmud, MBBS, MPH, who leads the center’s work in Bangladesh, will discuss his team’s efforts to bring about behavioral change in vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccine acceptance. Breakthrough ACTION produced public service announcements, drama series, entertainment-education shows and eight Facebook live phone-in shows. The project customized folk songs to address barriers to getting vaccinated. The programming aired on 17 radio stations.
In a coverage area of 25.5 million people, more than 20 million heard the radio messages.
Mohsina Mina, a producer at Radio Sagorgir, has seen the success firsthand. “I had been urging my 70-year-old mother-in-law to get vaccinated,” she says. “She was scared, skeptical, and had low trust in vaccination and the delivery system. However, after listening to episodes that addressed COVID-19 vaccine side effects, myths, misinformation, and rumors, she decided to get vaccinated. Now, she is eagerly waiting for her third dose.”
To register to attend, click here.