The lack of policies to deal with conspiracy theories was a major cause of the large population’s hesitancy to take the Covid 19 vaccine regardless of the “Niupla Pasin” policy effort, says, Prof Glen Mola a medical specialist with UPNG School of Medical and Health Science.
Speaking at a health seminar conducted by the Consultation Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC), Prof Mola emphasized the need to develop policies to counter misinformation as population hesitancy against the vaccine was instigated by the outbreak of unproven theories about the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine on social media.
Prof Mola further emphasized that more public awareness and face-to-face communication to answer public queries and give immediate responses and information about Covid 19 was one way to ease tension and uncertainty.
When the international health system introduced Covid-19 vaccines to help minimize the aggression of the virus. The population hesitancy delayed the country to recuperate from the impact of Covid-19 onset in the socio-economy of the country.
Mr. Dagwin Suarkia from the PNG Institute of Medical Research (IMR)) supported Prof Mola’s approach to community-level face-to-face communication and more public awareness through trusted mediums.
Mr. Suarkia further elaborated that a communication gap was created as politicians who mostly took over the stage and talked more about the virus lacked the scientific knowledge which questioned the credibility of the Covid 19 message relayed to the public.
It was discussed that there is a need to re-strategies on Covid-19 messages put out to the media, that should engage trusted and credible sources to lead and support discussions and answer frequently asked questions.
This was necessary because population hesitancy also affected the vulnerable population like people living with HIV/AIDS who were largely challenged to get vaccinated with their condition. Thus, it was possible that vaccine hesitancy have a rippled effect on other diseases vaccination like Samoa’s case of measles vaccine hesitancy.