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Need to reinforce messages on COVID Appropriate Behaviour, vaccine uptake, says Union Heath Ministry

·2 min read
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry (File Photo)
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], July 30 (ANI): In an online workshop organised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in collaboration with UNICEF, the ministry iterated the need to reinforce messaging on COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) and to encourage vaccine uptake in the country.

As per a press release, the workshop, chaired by Lav Agarwal, the Joint Secretary of Union Health Ministry, was organised for the Officials of Press Information Bureau (PIB), Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC), Doordarshan (DD), Doordarshan News, All India Radio (AIR), AIR News and State Immunisation Officers and IEC (Information, Education and Communication) officers from National Health Mission from five South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

While addressing the participants of the workshop, Agarwal encouraged the officers to innovate programming and communication content to encourage community ownership of COVID Appropriate Behaviour and to dissipate myths, misinformation and disinformation around COVID vaccines to counter vaccine hesitancy.

He also urged the officers to create a Jan Andolan (Public Movement) for COVID Appropriate Behaviour and to support the world's largest vaccination drive by featuring community role models, and broadcasting inspiring stories of COVID warriors, frontline health workers and exemplary community participation.

Acknowledging the constructive role of PIB, DD and AIR in overcoming vaccine hesitancy, he said, "PIB fact checks reports, videos and social media posts helps in reporting fake news and amplifies accurate and timely information. DD and AIR too have been using local cultural contexts to amplify vaccination uptake."

Since much of the fake news and misinformation circulates on social media, Agarwal urged the officers to make people aware of WhatsApp's chatbot, which, along with the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), connects users to 80+ fact-checking applications; and Twitter and Facebook's warning systems on labelling misleading information.

Further, acknowledging the media's constructive role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy by busting myths and fake news that is shared on global social media platforms, he said, "While people may be tired, the virus isn't. We too have to work tirelessly and with a persistent approach augment our collective fight against COVID-19."

Agarwal accentuated that media and media persons are major influencers of the society as they can encourage people to follow CAB and get vaccinated. "We often are asked of when will the third wave come? My answer to that is when we allow it to. We have to repeatedly encourage the people to observe COVID Appropriate Behaviour and our media influencers can play a great role in that through their messages and being role models," he said.

Additionally, Agarwal emphasised the need to create content around the pandemic induced mental health issues. (ANI)

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