RIZAL, Zamboanga del Norte, Nov. 11 (PIA) - Misinformation and fake news is spreading faster than COVID-19 and it's harder to deal with especially for fifth class municipalities who only have a few personnel working on communications.
This makes demand generation of the COVID-19 vaccines tad more challenging with the lockdowns and higher quarantine classifications imposed in certain areas.
Rizal town along with other municipalities like La Libertad, Mutia, Sergio Osmeña and Leon B. Postigo are identified as areas in Zamboanga del Norte province having difficulty in mobilizing the COVID-19 vaccines due to hesitancy, brand preference, among other reasons listed by the Department of Health (DOH)-9
In response to the growing concern of low turnout rate of the COVID-19 vaccines and fast-track herd immunity against the deadly virus, the Regional Inter-agency Task Force on COVID-19 created "Project Haven Community Development".
The initiative convened regional line agencies such as DOH, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD), as lead agency spearheading the efforts.
Project Haven, which will be run starting November 11-22, hopes to ramp-up the vaccination rollout in Zamboanga Peninsula region thru assessment and revisiting of current initiatives of the local government units.
Three teams were deployed in the different provinces-Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay to provide technical assistance, coordinate resource augmentation, formulate a catch-up plan Gantt chart to beef-up the vaccination rollout.
Rizal town, having been visited first among the listed areas, proved to have difficulties on its demand generation of the COVID-19 vaccines due to mistrust to vaccines leading to hesitancy; lack of information; prevalent fake news; lack of proper education among the residents; religion; pain threshold and dwindling community involvement of residents (they claimed to have enough of COVID and is already tired of the long-standing concern).
Mayor Fiona Marie Manigsaca of Rizal town, expressed the same concern of widespread misinformation and fake news affecting their COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
"People no longer believed us when we campaign for the vaccines. Some barangays are really apprehensive. They seemed to not believed COVID-19 and they fear the vaccine," she said during the assessment of the Project Haven.
Despite this, the mayor expressed they are continuing several efforts and making innovations to increase demand of the COVID-19 vaccines noting "we initiated raffle gifts, hopefully, we can see improvement compared to the previous weeks especially with the entry of Pfizer vaccines. Our residents are very expectant and happy of it," she said.
She welcomed the timely visit and intervention of Project Haven, saying "it would be better if other people will help us make our people understand about the COVID-19 vaccines. We are grateful for your visit and the assistance from other stakeholders."
A copy of the assessment result was provided to the LGU of Rizal for reference and monitoring. Project Haven will continue visiting other areas for the duration of the activity. (NBE/EDT/PIA9-Zamboanga del Norte)