To counter vaccine hesitancy among some sectors of the public, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has launched an intensified public information drive in partnership with local government units (LGUs) and uniformed personnel in order to generate demand and increase public confidence in the national vaccination program.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said while vaccine demand has increased, there is still a lot of disinformation and fake news being circulated by anti-vaxxers and by the misinformed and this will countered head-on by the information drive.
He said that the DILG is working closely with the DOH and PIA in mobilizing all LGUs and all DILG attached agencies especially the uniformed personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to inform as many Filipinos about the benefits and risks of vaccines, including the processes involved to deliver these vaccines to them.
“We are mobilizing all our DILG field officers down to the municipal level and all our chiefs of police, jail wardens, and fire marshals so that they become vaccination champions. Through a series of webinars and dialogues with health experts, we will equip them in their new role as vaccination champions in their respective communities,” he said.
Malaya said that there is much to be done to generate demand. In a recent open access online survey conducted by the OCTA CoVAX research team, only 55.9 percent of the 15,651 respondents are willing to be inoculated while 77.2 percent will get the vaccine only after majority of the population is vaccinated.
“Based on the latest data from OCTA, vaccine hesitancy is at 23%-40% depending on the location and circumstances. The good news is that after our town hall meetings, demand increases up to 99% so an information drive is instrumental to increase vaccination uptake,” he said.
He said the challenge is huge and the Department is mobilizing all available resources because the vaccines are arriving soon. The DILG recently completed it webinar-series for the PNP and is currently rolling out its webinar series for the Local Government Sector and other attached agencies.
Under DILG Memorandum Circular 2021-019 signed by DILG OIC Usec. Bernardo Florece, all LGUs are directed to lead in local demand generation and improving vaccine confidence in their respective communities. In the same memo, all local chief executives (LCES) and their local health committees and communication arms were directed to establish local vaccination operations centers (VOCs) with a dedicated Communications, Advocacy and Partnership Team that shall lead the demand generation and communication activities on the local level.
The LCEs are also urged to implement the Demand Generation Playbook, which is a step-by-step guide for LGUs to communicate and engage their constituents about the COVID-19 vaccines.
To ensure that their audience retains the message, LCEs were directed to designate local vaccine champions from among their local leaders, health professionals, partners and other influencers. “We urge all LGUs to hold barangay assemblies, town hall meetings and make full use of social media to promote vaccination,” said Malaya.
He said that LGUs can also hold local press conferences, dialogues and forums streamed in various social media platforms for better reach. “We need all the help we can get, hence, we encourage the LGUs to be creative in disseminating information about COVID-19 vaccination.”
He encouraged LCEs to fully equip their information officers, health officers and health education and promotion officers with the right messages by attending a Training of Trainers (ToTs) organized by the NTF Task Group for Demand Generation and Communications, the Department of Health and DILG. The ToTs shall cover a Symposium Series of Must Knows; Vaccine Communications Trainers' Training; and Town Halls for CSOs.
LCEs must also cascade all vaccine IEC materials to their areas of jurisdiction which can be accessed through bit. ly/COVlDl9Vaccines Communications ChampionsKit. They may also have these materials translated into the local languages for easier comprehension.