As Zimbabwe awaits to receive its first delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, there is need to continue to educate communities to avoid misinformation, address myths and misconceptions.
A survey by The Herald revealed that misconceptions and conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccines and the virus itself have been dominating most conversations in Harare’s high density areas and around the country.
In an interview with The Herald, Warren Park resident, Luckmore Mandizvidza said too much misinformation on the streets and on social media worries him.
“I just heard that different Covid -19 vaccines are currently being rolled out in the United Kingdom and that South Africa took delivery yesterday, but the vaccines are not safe for our health,” he said.
Mandizvidza reiterated that he does not know much about the vaccines, how they work in the human body or which one will be distributed in the country.
He added that there is need for the government and development partners to educate the people about the vaccines before they are rolled out.
Mandla Sibanda from Glen Lorne echoed the same sentiments calling for more sensitisation of communities about the vaccines before the roll out programmes begin.
“The problem is coming from the myths and misconceptions that are peddled on social media and the international media about the vaccines. This leaves a huge information gap,” he said.
Sibanda said sensitisation programmes and campaigns will also address fears people face.
“In doing such campaigns, people will go out in their masses to be vaccinated and they will have full information about the pandemic and the vaccines,” added Sibanda.
He said he was elated when he heard the news that this month Zimbabwe expects to roll out its vaccination programme.
“This indeed is a great step for the country towards Covid-19 prevention. If resources permit, everyone must be vaccinated. My prayer is for the vaccines to be sufficient for all of us in the country because people cannot continue dying when a solution has been found,” he added.
Norton resident Martha Moyo said education on Covid-19 is critical.
She said there is need for road shows which can be done door by door to permit social distancing.
“Road shows have proven to be weapons of mass information dissemination. This will also help dispel rumours around Covid-19,” she said.
There are different misconceptions and conspiracies being peddled about Covid -19 vaccines, Moderna and the Pfizer –BioNtech.
Some conspiracy theorists say the vaccines will infect people rather than treating them. Others claim vaccines contain a microchips.
It is argued that the chip will allow the government and corporations to surveil people who get the vaccines.
In addition to the misconceptions, it is argued that the vaccine will alter a person’s DNA, the molecule that contains a person’s genetic code and that the individual immune system is better than the vaccines.