3Cs Improve Literacy, Expedite Vaccination

01/11/2021 12:43 PM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.
By :
Dr Mohd Bakri Bakar

We are on the verge of transitioning from the COVID-19 pandemic to the endemic phase. The most recent outcome was that we were allowed to resume interstate travel after 90 per cent of the adult population had been vaccinated.

If we recall, 80% of the adult population was to have been vaccinated by the beginning of 2022. This means that those who hesitated and delayed at first to receive the vaccine have been successfully convinced.

It should be noted that those who delay vaccination should not be labelled as anti-vaxxers. Some of them need more time to digest the information to enhance confidence and trust in vaccination.

This is because the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented and have occurred far too quickly. Furthermore, the discussion and scientific terms used in the discovery of new COVID-19 studies necessitate clarification.

Besides, the influence of the media could also be a cause in the delaying of vaccination. In fact, there are those who have existing health problems that make them more cautious in accepting vaccine.

Concerns about safety, efficacy and side effects

According to survey results from local organisations, the majority of the people initially refused to receive the vaccine due to concerns about its safety, efficacy, and side effects. Studies conducted also reported that vaccine acceptance will increase in line with increasing age and education level.

Therefore, it is necessary to continue to improve the public education initiative with social support. Communication about vaccination that corresponds with needs and problems that arise must also be continuously improved.

Based on the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme thus far, it is worth noting that the 3Cs (Clarity, Confidence, and Convenience) have played an important role.

To address the concern about vaccine effectiveness, communication involving the use of previous vaccines and their effectiveness in preventing diseases such as polio, rubella, and measles in Malaysia has been carried out. Following that, the effectiveness of the current vaccine portfolio against COVID-19, including its ability to combat new variants and reduce the risk of infection, is often communicated clearly.

Interestingly, the call for vaccination has been carried out in the various state dialects, which should be commended. In this context, the involvement of medical and health practitioners, as well as scientists, is vital especially in using simple descriptions for better understanding.

Furthermore, the concerns expressed by various civil society organisations and the public have been addressed with clarity and transparency. Some events have been raving, including the use of a syringe and an isolated problem involving the injection which has been answered hasten completely.

Building confidence

Concerning safety, the methods of vaccine development have been thoroughly explained to build confidence. These include faster vaccine production rates than ever before due to the use of advanced technology resulting from existing research, increased cross-border cooperation, improved open data access and concerted financial support with centralised facilities.

In fact, the description of the development of vaccines up to clinical trials and the promotion of the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) as a national regulatory approval body also helped.

Delaying of vaccine acceptance was also influenced by the ease to access the vaccination centre (PPV). In this regard, the implementation of diversified PPV such as clinics, schools, mobile vehicles and drive-through service has facilitated convenient access for everyone. Outreach vaccination programmes have also been implemented to improve access to communities in rural and remote areas.

In addition to facilitating access, PPV implementation at universities such as at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia also assists in building community confidence in vaccination. This corresponds with our society's trust in universities.

Furthermore, the community's confidence was boosted by the standard and good practice in PPV. For example, each individual must first go through inspection procedures involving their medical history and allergies. They must remain in the monitoring area once they have been vaccinated.

Of course, it is also hoped that all the stated initiatives attract a handful of anti-vaccine groups to work together to combat COVID-19 through vaccination. Regardless, as evidenced by the history of global anti-vaccine movements, they will undoubtedly create a variety of shifting reasons to deny vaccination contributions.

Curbing dissemination of misinformation

On the part of the government, the assertion has been implemented through the law to curb the dissemination of misinformation or false ‘infodemic’ that cause public discomfort. Indeed, the application of the law is especially critical in the case of rapidly improving cases with high infection rates in the community.

At the same time, communication and education efforts need to be continued, utilising everyone's synergies. Lessons learned include the importance of addressing concerns and issues with appropriate explanations and solutions.

In addition to health considerations, vaccination should be viewed as both a community and a religious responsibility. More people being vaccinated means more chances for us to win.


Dr Mohd Bakri Bakar is Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Science of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)