Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony says government has noticed a concerning trend whereby some religious leaders are encouraging their followers against taking the Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr Anthony said this observation was made following a recent trip to several hinterland communities.
“We’re confronted in some communities where people who have influence in those communities, some of the faith-based leaders have been telling their church members not take vaccine,” the Minister said.
Dr Anthony noted that in many of these villages, religious leaders hold much influence over the people, and as such, he is pleading with them to become educated on the Covid-19 vaccines so that they can encourage their followers appropriately.
“In some communities, these church leaders have a very dominant position and if they tell you not to take the vaccine then unfortunately, we’re finding a lot of people in those communities are not taking the vaccines.”
“So we want to change that because as we know these vaccines are protective, they’re going to save lives…We want to urge these leaders and the churches which they’re affiliated with nationally, for those national leaders to talk to them about the importance of vaccination because the meetings we’ve had nationally, with the national leaders of all the different faiths have supported the vaccination programme, and we need that message to filter down to the pastors and so forth in the various communities so that message could be consistent,” the Minister posited.
Another hindrance to the vaccination programme in the hinterland communities is the language barriers between health workers and members of the public. However, he said efforts are being made to address this.
“In the interior of country, we know we have the nine indigenous languages…persons in those communities understand and speak the language, so in an effort to reach people and to get over these messages the Ministry has been able to hire someone who translated messages pertaining to vaccination, the importance of vaccination, the safety of vaccines in all of the indigenous languages and we have been playing these as PSA (Public Service Announcement) on the various radio stations,” the Minister explained.