The ONE Campaign, UNICEF and the African Union have today launched a new TikTok campaign, to counter misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines on social media.
This new initiative – under the hashtag #MythOrVax – aims to dispel myths and correct inaccurate information about COVID-19 while addressing ongoing fears and concerns and raising awareness about the importance of vaccinations. Phase one of the campaign, which is open to the public, kicks off with a Quiz that tests TikTok users’ knowledge of COVID-19 vaccines.
Amid the current COVID-19 surge in Africa, a May 2021 survey conducted by Geopoll shows that only 48% of people across six major African countries would take the opportunity to get the vaccine right away if it was available. This figure is down from 62% in November 2020, further illustrating the impact of continued negative information about the vaccine. While the low vaccination rates in Africa are predominantly attributed to limited availability and supply bottlenecks, low vaccine confidence in the continent threatens to undermine the fight against the pandemic.
The second phase of the campaign begins on September 4, where the organisations behind this campaign will bring together prominent African celebrities and experts such as, Yemi Alade, Pearl Thusi, Sauti Sol, Maps Maponyane, Dr. John Nkengasong (Director, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), Dr. Salim Abdool Karim (Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of KwaZulu-Natal; CAPRISA Professor for Global Health in the Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University), Dr. Lwazi Manzi (Head of Secretariat of the AU Commission on COVID-19) and Dr. Githinji Gitahi (Group CEO, Amref Health Africa) to discuss concerns around the lack of vaccine confidence in Africa and what’s needed to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commenting on the need to counter misinformation and strengthen vaccine confidence and uptake, Edwin Ikhuoria, Africa Executive Director of the ONE Campaign said, “While the rise of vaccine hesitancy is not solely an African phenomenon, its effects on the continent are particularly damaging given the low vaccination rates attributable to supply constraints and slow rollouts. As Africa continues the fight to secure and administer life-saving vaccines, it is imperative that all stakeholders actively address the misinformation and disinformation on vaccines which fuels hesitancy. Failure to do so threatens to cripple Africa’s pandemic response.”
“Young people in Africa have many questions about COVID-19 vaccines,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Their search for vaccine-related answers is often online where they are met with a deluge of information, including misinformation and rumors. The ‘Myth or Vax’ initiative will help to further engage young people in learning about COVID-19 vaccines and to clarify some of the common misconceptions that are circulating.”
Ms Prudence Ngwenya, Head of the Youth Development Division at the African Union Commission, speaking about the importance of mobilizing youth towards curbing the spread of misinformation said, “We are very excited to launch a campaign that addresses vaccine hesitancy with our partners. Our role as the Youth Division at the African Union Commission is to mobilize young people and create an enabling environment for them to make positive actions. COVID-19 undoubtedly disrupted a lot of our lives and with the development of vaccines around the world a lot of the truth has gotten lost in the skepticism, so we thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to correct some myths and in the process create exciting and memorable content that will resonate with Africa’s youth”.