BRIDGING THE IMMUNIZATION GAP: PARTNERING WITH JOURNALISTS
Immunization services have been disrupted significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the achievements in the eradication and elimination of major vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) like polio and measles.
Reporting on efforts to prevent infectious diseases through immunization is a key part of health coverage. Journalists play an important role in examining public health efforts and in helping readers and viewers understand how and why vaccines are used.
Main-stream and social media channels in Nandi County are being mobilised and inspired to effectively combat the spread of misinformation and educate their audiences on the benefits of vaccines, how they work, and the consequences of the antivaccine movement for society at large.
Earlier today, the County Department of Health in partnership with Kenyan AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO) held a sensitization forum for Journalists from Nandi on the immunization status, the number of children targeted for immunization and the negative effects of anti-vaccine campaigns in the media.
The objective of the sensitization included creating public awareness on vaccines through the provision of accurate and balanced information; mobilizing fellow journalists against negative press regarding vaccination; mobilizing the support of religious leaders, traditional leaders, and other stakeholders to address noncompliance to immunization; monitoring and evaluating immunization exercises in the county at all times; and providing feedback to communities and policy makers on progress and remaining challenges. The department of health offered to provide technical support to further organize enlightenment activities, first with their peers on immunization and then in the communities that resist vaccines.
Preventable diseases include diarrheal diseases, Pneumonia, Measles, Polio, Whooping Cough, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Meningitis, Yellow fever, Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis, and Cervical cancer (caused by human papillomavirus).
“We must all increase our commitment to reaching all the children and pregnant women in Nandi County,” said Rachel Rop, County EPI Coordinator.
Immunization services are essential and should be maintained as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) and protect children.
As a way forward, healthcare workers and journalists committed to regularly inform communities about the status and availability of routine immunization services and campaigns. Regular communication will help to reduce confusion about availability and purpose of immunization services, increase awareness of the necessary precautions in place at the immunization session site to prevent Covid-19 transmission and prepare community members who need to attend the vaccination session.