Study faults govt on  failure to educate public before Covid vaccination rollout

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Study faults govt on  failure to educate public before Covid vaccination rollout
Covid vaccination

A study by the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund has faulted government for failure to adequately educate the public on the benefits, before rolling out Covid vaccination.

In March, 2021, Uganda joined the rest of the world to roll out a countrywide vaccination exercise against Coronavirus and to this, five vaccines including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Sinovac were lined up to boost immunity of the citizens.

However, the study named “Multiple Vaccine Roll Out in Uganda: Lessons from Covid-19 to Inform Policy and Better Program Design”  spearheaded by Dr. Allen Kabagenyi, Prof. Peter Waiswa, Ronald Wasswa, Julius Sseninde, and Vincent Kayemba indicated that there were several barriers to multiple vaccine roll out.

“14% of the responses from Kampala said that Covid vaccine was not safe while 47% responses  from Namayingo were  in belief that Covid-19 infection is not possible after vaccination . 27% of the responses from Adjumani and Kampala said that recovered Covid-19 patients need no further vaccination,” the study says.

The study indicated that 27% of young adults aged 18 to 30 sowed the highest level of negative attitude towards the vaccines, while between 23-25% of respondents of primary and secondary education levels exhibited the highest level of negative attitudes.

According to the study, respondents from Kampala constituted the highest proportion of those with a negative attitude towards the Covid vaccines.

The study explains that many were accepting to be vaccinated since it was a requirement to access buildings and offices but not that they were willing to be vaccinated.

Myths, misconceptions

The study says there were so many misconceptions and myths among the public about Covid vaccination that it says were never debunked by government.

According to the study, this state of affairs meant that many people stayed away from vaccination.

The study indicates that this also affected the number of people who were supposed to return for second Covid jabs.

“There is widespread belief among many people that COVID-19 is no longer a threat. This belief severely impacts vaccine uptake. Consequently, according to one of the respondents, this belief poses a major challenge to the success of the vaccination campaign, as it reduces the willingness of the population to participate in routine vaccine rollouts,” the study says.

The study says that the health care providers themselves who were doing the vaccination were not properly prepared for the exercise, noting that many didn’t have much information about the exercise which hindered the acceleration of multiple vaccine roll out.

“The health care providers were not given adequate training to appreciate the need /purpose of the different vaccines that had been rolled out in the country. Many struggled to recommend to population to receive the vaccines accordingly.”

Dr. Allen Kabagenyi led the team.

The study also indicated there was no  proactive approach to community engagement and health education which would be crucial in the success of multiple vaccine roll out as it would  help to dispel fears, rumours and misinformation about the vaccines.

“A number of people who reported to have been vaccinated still held on to some misconceptions and were unwilling to recommend others to be vaccinated. It is possible that they received the vaccine following the directive to have all vaccinated in the country prior to opening up /lifting the lock down ,” the study indicates.

According to the study, these were not done and it affected vaccine roll out.

Recommendations

The study says for future vaccination exercises in the country, there is need for education of the masses and the health care providers so that they are properly acquainted with the exercise.

“The exhibition of knowledge gaps and misconceptions regarding multiple COVID-19 vaccine roll out and among Health Care workers calls for the urgent need to retool and sensitize the practitioners to be change agents in their respective areas of jurisdiction,” Makerere University’s Dr. Allen Kabagenyi said.

“There is need for tailored messages and information suitable for different population groups (for example  by gender, education, residence,) to reduce vaccines related misconceptions and mistrust.”

The study recommended that roll out of many vaccines for same disease/infection creates confusion and mistrust within the populations.

“Therefore there is need for a cascade process or structured way of rolling out vaccines in the population for acceptability and increased uptake.”

 

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