Significance of communication for successful vaccine uptake
Right from the conference’s opening ceremony, the significance of communication campaigns was clear.
“We need to have 360-degree integration that aligns with national routine immunizations. This should include storytelling; otherwise, others may tell false stories,” explained Lilyan Mutua, Head of Health Promotion in Nairobi City County, Kenya.
Speaking during the conference keynote panel on the first day, Lilyan referred to the waves of disinformation and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine roll-out. She discussed the need to integrate mass media and social media with interpersonal communication and public relations efforts for successful vaccination programs, including the use of local influencers.
“When people of influence get vaccinated, they set a powerful example for their public,” noted Lilyan.
Dr. Richard Kabanda, Acting Commissioner Health Services, Health Promotion, Education, and Health Communication at the Ministry of Health, Uganda, also discussed integrating communication efforts for vaccine success. While speaking on demand generation as part of pandemic preparedness, vaccine access and delivery, and decision-making, Dr. Kabanda advocated for the use of multiple forms of communication efforts working towards one goal —vaccine success.
“Effective, purposeful, and highly intensified messaging must be developed for vaccine success. These messages must be relatable and contextualized, including the use of social listening, behavior change models, and theoretical frameworks to guide practice,” explained Dr. Kabanda.