Misinformation Hindering Covid-19 Treatment and Vaccine Uptake in Kenya
Misinformation about COVID-19 always sounds like a rare occurrence until you experience it first-hand. It’s baffling how scores of people lack the basic information and facts about the Coronavirus, how it spreads, how to handle a patient and the testing and treatment surrounding the disease.
I have had two close relatives test positive for COVID-19 recently; one was my mother, whom we quarantined at home and the recent one is an uncle, who had to be admitted in hospital.
COVID-19 Denialism has been another key factor that continues to hinder the fight against the pandemic. Many people continue to repeatedly downplay the existence of the virus.
It took weeks for my mother to accept that she had COVID as she would often insist that she was suffering from Pneumonia and the government was just out to record an increased number of coronavirus cases. I’m glad that she is now more informed and has even become a crusader of tackling COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation and has even received her first jab.
A month after my mother fully recovered and returned to her house, there are still relatives and neighbors who will only speak to her from door for fear of getting infected since she’d been infected with the virus.
Some were even shocked that we could accommodate a COVID-19 patient at our home, with kids in the picture when she should be in isolation at a government facility.
But the most ridiculous experience had to be with my uncle’s wife. My uncle’s infection was abit severe than my mother’s, by the time he was taken to hospital he had difficulty in breathing and his wife kept urging him not to mention that symptom to the doctors least he’s treated as a COVID patient.
“Come on Mum! But this is the major challenge he has, how do you just say that! What if he’s actually infected with COVID!” their daughter protested.
Luckily or unluckily by the time they got to the hospital, the gentleman could hardly speak and he was put on oxygen support right away. He would end up admitted for a week and the wife has warned the man and the kids not to mention to their neighbors that he was suffering from COVID least they start ostracizing them.
Covid-19 Treatment and Vaccine Uptake
Inaccurate information on COVID–19, which has been spreading widely, is largely to blame for such reactions, coupled by ignorance.
Misinformation and disinformation spread widely and at speed, making it more difficult for the public to identify verified facts and advice from trusted sources, such as their local health authority or WHO.
Government Officials and officers from the Ministry of Health have recently been vocal in countering false narratives that the COVID-19 vaccines are causing low libido and infertility in men, a narrative that is stopping some men from getting the jab.
Defining Misinformation and Disinformation
- Misinformation is false information shared by people who do not intend to mislead others.
- Disinformation is false information deliberately created and disseminated with malicious intent.
It’s evident that we need a lot of sensitization at the grassroots levels to tackle misinformation and disinformation on COVID-19 and everyone has a role to play.
According to The Center for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), the first step to tackling misinformation around COVID-19 is identifying where it starts and when, why, and how it is spreading and evolving.