I would be very cautious with using mass communication to promote COVID-19 in countries where the level of vaccine refusal is high, such as some African countries. A substantial proportion of people in these countries think that COVID-19 is not present in their country and an even larger proportion that COVID-19 threat is exaggerated as some studies show (e.g., 79% in Senegal and Niger), including one we conducted for WAHO that will be published soon. In addition, according to an Africa CDC study an average of 49% of people in Africa think that “COVID-19 is a planned event by foreign actors.”
An inadequate mass campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination might raise doubts, suspicion and hostility. As it has happened, for example, with the oral polio vaccination campaign, people might think that vaccination is driven by a willingness to harm the communities, by financial interest or just because African governments obey to the White. In countries with a high rate of vaccine refusal, mass communication efforts must focus, first, on showing that COVID-19 exist in the country.
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HIFA profile: Bernard Seytre is a Consultant at BNSCommunication in France. Professional interests: Health communication and education. Email address: seytre AT bnscom.fr