IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 15th Jan
“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.” – Larry Winget
EDITORIAL HUNT #315 :“How to Build Trust in Vaccines ?”
How to Build Trust in Vaccines ?
Chapal Mehra isPublic Health Specialist and Director, Pi Consulting
Building trust in vaccines
By being accountable and transparent and countering misinformation, the government can improve vaccine intake
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Health : Education
Is an open discussion and comprehensive public education important aspects before delivering any vaccines? Critically examine the role of public information. -(GS 3)
- Role of science
- Fear and dilemma
- Decision making
- Way Forward
- ROLE OF SCIENCE : Over the last year, as the novel coronavirus has plagued humanity killing thousands, the role of science and particularly vaccines has become critical.
- HOPE FOR MANY : To millions, vaccines represent the possibility of a swift end to an uncontrollable pandemic.It is not surprising then that recent news of promising vaccines has been greeted with hope and faith.
- ACCELERATED APPROVALS : The accelerated approval of Covaxin without Phase III trials data puts forth several critical questions.
FEAR AND SCEPTICISM
- TRUST FACTOR : The role of the vaccine in putting an end to this pandemic is critical. Yet public trust in such vaccines is indispensable.
- SUCCESS OF IMMUNISATION : In short, a vaccine-led control effort will only be as effective as the public confidence and support it garners.
- DILEMMA : However, as experts and politicians engage in public sparring, the general public’s fear and scepticism around these vaccines is only growing.
- PUBLIC EDUCATION : This underscores the urgent need and critical importance of transparency as also public education and participation in this process.
- CONCERNS : A vast majority of these concerns are fuelled by a lack of trust in approval processes, insufficient information combined with limited health literacy and a poor understanding of the protection vaccines provide.
- FAITH IN INSTITUTIONS : These concerns are exacerbated when you couple them with the fact that trust in public institutions has been quite low, especially in the wake of the lockdowns and economic desperation.
- PARTICIPATIVE FRAMEWORK : The government and public institutions need to start by building open, participative frameworks for building trust, and engaging and informing all stakeholders, especially experts and communities, on these vaccines.
- A NATIONAL FORUM : A forum should include representatives from all stakeholders, where both the scientific basis for approval and the roll-out strategy need to be discussed.
- INTEGRATED APPROACH : Simultaneously, there needs to be public education and information through large-scale State- and local-level networks where people are informed, sensitised and their feedback taken.
- STAKEHOLDERS : These efforts need to be guided by scientific experts, communication and community specialists and leaders.
- FIGHTING FAKE NEWS : This is important because misinformation about the vaccines is rife. This is potentially damaging for any mass vaccination programme.
- ASSURANCE : The people who need to take this vaccine need to understand the programme, be assured of the vaccine’s efficacy but also be involved in decision-making.
- LOCAL MASCOTS : Local leaders from public figures to religious leaders need to be made Ambassadors in this process.
- DOUBT RESOLUTION CENTRES : It is important that the process is not just directive but participative with people being able to ask questions and offer suggestions.
- OPEN GROUND UP PARTICIPATIVE MODEL : Yet, in India we still have no idea what the roll-out and access strategy is. This is why an accountable, open, ground-up participative model needs to be implemented.
- POLITICAL GAINS : In fact, using vaccines for political gains and image building, though not unexpected, will not only be unethical but counterproductive.
- NEED OF THE HOUR : A simple, democratic, yet effective way of improving uptake while reducing costs is by creating participatory frameworks of engaging experts and communities.
- ACTION TIME : Now it is time for the state to do what is expected in a democracy – be accountable, build trust and counter misinformation with openness and communication and not obfuscation.