'Address Eagerness for Shots, Engage Intl Media': Centre's Advisory to States Amid Expectations of Huge Vaccine Demand

·3-min read

A key document accessed by News18 shows the Centre wants a unified strategy on vaccines and vaccination communication strategy. For the same, a document, titled 'Covid-19 Communications Strategy' lists out details of communication around the vaccine has been shared by the Centre to the states. It seeks to "disseminate timely, accurate and transparent information about the vaccines to alleviate apprehensions about the vaccine, ensure its acceptance and encourage uptake" says the document.

It says that it is important to manage and mitigate any potential disappointment expressed by unmet demand for the vaccine or ‘eagerness’ amongst people. Addressing vaccine ‘hesitancy’ that could arise because of apprehensions around vaccine safety, efficacy; and any other myths and misconceptions. Provide information on potential risks and mitigate unintended crisis is also important at the same time.

The document asks states to provide information on the new Covid-19 vaccine, address vaccine hesitancy, ensure understanding of the prioritized approach and continue to ensure Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

It stresses on vaccine hesitancy and the need to address it. This can be done by identifying traditionally known vaccine-hesitant, resistant areas/groups/communities, based on prior experience. It will involve creation a pool of editors who will write and share opinion editorials in national, state and regional media.

Strengthening Mass Media, Social Media, Engaging International Media, Social Mobilization and Community Engagement is a key aspect of an effective communication strategy says the document. The stakeholders for the same are media houses at the national level news channels at national, state and regional levels Senior editors and health, education and business journalists media from regional dailies and local dailies

Conducting regular media engagement to amplify key messages and leverage existing PIB platforms for media, engaging influencers, celebrities for interviews, short videos and gifs on key messages, to counter negative media, engaging Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram to amplify positive messages and information and nip rumors through chatbots and tracking of social media, development of positive stories and testimonials from beneficiaries on the vaccine​ should be done. In short, proactive and positive messaging is a key aspect of the communication strategy.

Individual influencers, celebrities, local leaders, religious leaders and frontline workers should be a part of the government's communication strategy.

It is asking for states to train IEC officers of government departments at National, State and District levels Development partners key officials from ministries of Panchayati Raj, Human Resource Development, Urban Development, Youth, Women and Child Development, Railways, Labour among others CSOs, CBOs, FLWs, Influencers, Youth Networks, Volunteers, PRIs and, SHGs Staff of COVID-19 National and State level for the same.

Actions have been divided at the block, district and state level. It also says that while the vaccine is an important part of Covid-19 protection, it is important to emphasize the continued practice of COVID Appropriate Behaviours or CAB frequent and thorough hand washing using soap and water, wearing a mask/face cover and physical distancing of "do gaj" for personal safety and prevention of community transmission.

At the National level too the task is cut out. Development of the Community Mobilisation package for a different stakeholders, development of orientation leaflets for community mobilisation by different stakeholders, development of A& V materials for community mobilisation including training films, FAQs and key messages to support the Jan Andolan on CoVID-19 vaccination, Social Mobilization and Community Engagement Social mobilization actions will focus on risk communications and community engagement have to be done at the national level. Coordination with Ministries like the Information and broadcasting ministry and also the external affairs ministry for organising interactions with the international media as also embassies and consulates outside India must be done.