By Loness Gwazanga
Blantyre, February 20, Mana: Members of the press in Blantyre have committed to take a leading role in disseminating positive information that will increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake among the citizenry.
The commitment comes after noting that Blantyre District has managed to vaccine only 19 percent of the total eligible population due to myths and misconceptions, a thing authority have described as worrisome.
This was revealed on Monday in Blantyre during a bi-annual participatory action media session to understand barriers to COVID-19 as well as non-adherence of prevention and control measures and vaccine acceptance organized by Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS).
Speaking on behalf of the media, one of the journalists working for Nation Publication’s Limited, Lloyd Chitsulo said the media will work tirelessly to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding COVID-19 as a way of encouraging communities to take the vaccine.
“As journalists, we need to play a leading role to make sure that there is an increased uptake of COVID-19 vaccine through our stories and broadcasting materials. We will make sure that the myths and misconceptions surrounding COVID-19 are dispelled and publish more stories to ensure that people are convinced to take the vaccine in large numbers,” explained Chitsulo.
Chief Environmental Health Officer for Blantyre District Health Office (DHO) Penjani Chunda said it was unfortunate that when COVID-19 vaccine came, there was a lot of misinformation that has up to date affected the uptake.
Chunda then rated the media as the only paramount instrument in giving out factual and helpful information regarding the vaccine.
“Our target by this time was at 30 percent and come June this year, we are expected to be at 70 percent and right now, we are far below the target. What happened in the past was that there was misinformation regarding the vaccine and by the time the health experts came in with the right messages, the communities were already misinformed.
“Therefore, since media informs and educates the masses, it will propagate the message to encourage the vaccine uptake, then we will be able to reach our target,” said Chunda.
Similar media engagements have also been held in Lilongwe and Mzuzu.