We all know that the fastest way out of the COVID-19 pandemic is to ensure that everyone, everywhere has fair access to vaccines. But two major barriers to achieving widespread vaccinations are hesitancy and misinformation
In Africa, social media has contributed to the spread of misinformation on the continent. That’s why sharing the correct information about vaccines is crucial to achieving widespread vaccination and ending the pandemic once and for all. ONE in Africa’s #MythOrVax campaign has worked to do just that. The campaign focuses on dispelling vaccine misinformation through a fun challenge on TikTok, various livestream sessions where some of the biggest celebrities on the continent teamed up with health experts to deliver the correct information, and more.
@one.org @edwindaniels1 ONE Africa ED is calling on you guys to start acting against #covid19. Join the #mythorvax challenge+get #vaccinated ♬ original sound – one.org
The problem at hand
A very low number of people in Africa have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and in sub-Saharan Africa, uptake is particularly low. Of the 36 million COVID-19 vaccines administered on the continent, only about 6 million have been administered in sub-Saharan Africa.
While these low numbers of administered doses can be attributed to unequal vaccine distribution and the nearly non-existent infrastructures to fast-track vaccine delivery in Africa, social media also plays a role.
Misinformation about the side effects and the effectiveness of the vaccines are all across social media, which add “additional layer[s] of challenges towards minimising the transmission and further spread of COVID-19 and increasing vaccine uptake,” according to a survey by the Africa CDC and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Addressing the problem at hand
Seeing how social media has played a role in spreading misinformation, we decided to use those same social media platforms to combat it. In partnership with UNICEF and the African Union, we launched the #MythOrVax campaign on TikTok where we challenged people on social media to answer five questions about COVID-19 vaccines using our #MythOrVax filter.
We engaged our staff members and ONE supporters in Africa to join the campaign and take our challenge using our filter on TikTok. We also hosted live sessions between African artists Yemi Alade from Nigeria, SautiSol from Kenya, Maps from South Africa, and Pearl Thusi, where they teamed up with health experts to address the misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines and spread the correct information.
Our work on addressing the misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines is far from over. We’ll continue to challenge vaccine misinformation and work toward a future where everyone, everywhere has fair access to vaccines.