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DOH wants influencers to combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
DOH wants influencers to combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
Healthcare workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 during the launch of the bivalent Pfizer vaccine at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan on June 22, 2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — In an effort to address vaccine hesitancy among the public, the Department of Health (DOH) has advised local officials to engage “influencers” in their campaign so as to convince unvaccinated members of the community to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

In a recently released memorandum, the DOH said local officials should “ensure the presence of key influencers/champions in the barangay, highlighting the benefits of vaccination through the influencers’ testimonies.”

An influencer is someone who is able to persuade a lot of other people or a target audience, according to a definition by Collins Dictionary. Influencers have the capability to convince individuals or groups into doing something.

The DOH also recommended that local government units (LGUs) employ “small group discussions as these provide more personal messaging to address personal concerns.”

“Coordinate with local leaders and community health workers to identify vaccine-hesitant individuals, and explore and address specific reasons behind the hesitation,” the agency’s memorandum instructed.

The DOH recently announced that bivalent COVID-19 vaccines can now be given as first, second and third booster to the country’s priority groups – health care workers (A1), senior citizens (A2) and immunocompromised individuals (A3).

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said they decided to roll out these bivalent jabs to the A3 category to speed up the utilization of the 390,000 doses of the vaccines, which are set to expire on Aug. 30.

The DOH stressed that to fast-track the COVID-19 vaccination program, LGUs should ensure placement of vaccination sites at strategic locations.

The agency likewise noted a need to focus on the deployment of more vaccination teams to identified areas, including volunteers from medical societies, civil society organizations, private sectors and faith-based organizations.

“Form more vaccination teams for mobile vaccination and temporary post-vaccination, as needed. Provide daily quota per vaccination team based on the target per barangay or catchment area,” the DOH said.

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