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Rabat – Preparations for a national vaccination campaign are underway in Morocco but the success of the campaign will depend on public trust and positive communication. Health expert Tayeb Hamdi presented scientific recommendations to prevent mistrust in the vaccines which has become a threat to vaccination campaigns worldwide.
Persistent global mistrust
The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting government measures have become a divisive issue in many countries across the world. In France, only four in 10 wish to be vaccinated while in South Africa only half of the correspondents were receptive to the idea, according to a recent Ipsos poll. A majority of Russian citizens similarly distrust the vaccines.
While Ipsos and the World Economic Forum expect trust in vaccines to rise as campaigns commence, public distrust continues to be a major threat to resolving the COVID-19 crisis. The WHO has labeled misinformation as a top-10 threat to public health and major social media platforms are actively censoring misinformation regarding COVID-19.
The threat of public mistrust, conspiracy theories, and false information also presents a challenge in Morocco, according to doctor Tayeb Hamdi. Hamdi’s science-based recommendations include “mobilizing” family doctors and general practitioners to convey their confidence in the vaccines directly to their patients.
Clear and transparent information
The government itself should present clear and transparent information on the benefits of the vaccination campaign. Hamdi recommends that Morocco informs its citizens on the safety of vaccines and the rigorous procedures that preceded its approval.
This information should be presented through positive communication instead of fear-based narratives, according to Hamdi. He considers it “counterproductive” to present fear-inducing communication as the virus spreads often through people who themselves are not at the greatest risk of fatal consequences.
Stopping the COVID-19 crisis and restarting the path towards a state of normalcy will require solidarity and altruism. Citizens should be aware that preventative measures help protect their loved ones. Taking part in Morocco’s vaccination campaign and adhering to government measures is the fastest way towards economic recovery according to Hamdi.
Hamdi hopes that elite figures will receive vaccinations early in order to instill public confidence in Morocco’s vaccination campaign. He hopes the government will emphasize the benefits of a “return to normal” and what this could mean for the most basic social interactions and family gatherings that have been absent for nearly a year.
Communication regarding vaccines should also be targeted at health professionals, Hamdi recommends, in order to counter “misconceptions, clichés, and prejudices.” Hamdi hopes citizens will be provided equitable and cost-free access to vaccines that inspire trust and confidence in Morocco’s vaccination campaign.
Once the vaccination campaign is truly underway, Hamdi urges Morocco’s health authorities to tightly monitor the efficacy and safety of vaccines, including checking for possible side effects.
In order to realize the science-based recommendations presented by Hamdi, Morocco needs a strong awareness campaign ahead of the vaccination campaign. “The earlier the communication campaign, the greater the support of the population,” Hamdi stated.