A MEDIA campaign conducted by Benjamin Mkapa Foundation in Mbeya to encourage people to go for Covid-19 vaccination has registered notable achievement as the vaccine uptake has increased.
The campaign enabled Chunya to vaccinate 22,564 people while Kyela District vaccinated 18,268 people. The districts received Sinopharm, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Shortly after receiving the Covid-19 vaccination, Mr Willy Sukwe became a self-proclaimed ambassador for the vaccination campaign in his rural community at Ifumbo Ward in Chunya District, Mbeya Region, where Sinopharm, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being provided.
“I am going home to tell my wife and other members of the family to get vaccinated,” vowed Sukwe as he got off from the queue of residents who had turned up for inoculation at Ifumbo Dispensary in the wake of the media campaign.
Kyela District, which borders Malawi on the southern part, has been targeted for vaccination. “Cross border interactions with neighbouring countries in this area means that the population is at higher risk of contracting Covid-19,” said the District Medical Officer Dr Mariam Issa.
“Through this awareness campaign, we have reached many people of all age groups, using educative programmes, the media, as well as education through entertainment platforms,” says Dr Issa.
“Our target was to reach 75 per cent of the district’s population, but I think we still need to do more to attain the target,” she explained, highlighting the gap in extending the coverage of vaccination to the remaining 54 out of 93 villages and 39 dispensaries in Kyela, where 18, 268 people had been inoculated by March 6, 2022.
The campaign, implemented by Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is part of the national vaccine deployment plan which started in June 2021 aiming to reach 20 per cent of the country’s population (11,888,398) by the end of 2022 through the COVAX programme.
“Before we started the media campaign, there were rumours in public that vaccines are unsafe but each time I see people seeking to be vaccinated, I get a sense that communities are now aware of the benefits of vaccination,” said the Regional Immunisation Officer for Mbeya, Mr Danford Barnaba.
Media sensitisation has helped the community to make informed choices towards Covid-19 vaccines and increased the acceptance and the uptake of preventive measures, with a goal towards contributing to a decrease in new infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
“In the shortest time that BMF, supported by UNICEF has carried out this campaign, I saw the numbers of people who have been vaccinated going up to 6,000,” said Tamim Kambona, the District Executive Director of Chunya.
As the campaign continues, more people are expected to turn up, and this will help us get better results in the public health targets we’ve set,” he remarked.
Risk communication and community engagement strategies have been employed to ensure effective roll out and accelerated uptake of vaccines in Mbeya region. Community engagement was accrued through media channels while addressing individual level behaviour needs
This content was originally published here.