Covid-19: Centre to rope in celebs, faith leaders to disseminate accurate info on vaccines

A 88-page document on Covid-19 vaccine communication strategy has been released by the ministry.

Representational image | Photo: AP

New Delhi: In a bid to build trust and enable confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine amongst people, the Union Health Ministry will rope in celebrities, faith leaders, media, and RWAs to disseminate accurate and transparent information.

A 88-page document on Covid-19 vaccine communication strategy has been released by the ministry. It seeks to disseminate timely, accurate and transparent information about the vaccine to alleviate apprehensions, ensure its acceptance and encourage uptake.

According to the document, the government aims to achieve this using three strategies, first by using the social influence or endorsements from experts and official voices, establishment of a National Media Rapid Response Cell and involving community mobilisers and frontline workers to engage with the community.

Three platforms will be used to disseminate information, which includes celebrities from entertainment industry, sports and politics, influencers like local leaders, faith leaders, social cultural leaders, panchayat leaders and teachers. Frontline workers will also be roped in.

The second platform includes community groups such as Gram Sabhas, School Management Committees, Children's School Cabinets, the NSS, the NYKS, Scouts and Guides and Cooperatives. Thirdly, social media, community media, mass media and outdoor media will be used.

WhatsApp will also be used for proactive messaging. WhatsApp content toolkit and guide will be made for all campaign partners, including Ministries, at national and state level to ensure cohesive campaign. Coordination groups will be established for social media coordination.

"Identify and engage WhatsApp champions from WhatsApp Groups, e.g. school principals, RWA chairpersons, who can disseminate information and can counter misinformation. All states will need to ensure that partners have tools to support the introduction of Covid-19 vaccine through digital and social media amplification to reach audiences," the document stated.

The information on vaccines will clarify that it has gone through various trials and is safe, its eligibility criteria and vaccination process, where to access the vaccine, process of registration and pre-conditions for vaccination, post vaccination care and support.

Key elements of the communication strategy will be advocacy, capacity building, media engagement and social media, social mobilisation and community engagemnet and adverse effect following immunisation (AEFI) communication.

The vaccine is likely to be approved soon. As India awaits with bated breath for a silver bullet against coronavirus, the Drug Controller General of India ((DCGI) hinted at the approval of vaccine earlier on Thursday and said that the country will have a "Happy New Year with something in hand".

The drug regulator is currently analysing the data submitted by the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and Bharat Biotech, which is making indigenous vaccine in collaboration with ICMR. The expert panel will convene a meeting on January 1 on this.

The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive. It will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with comorbidities.


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