International aid agency World Vision is gearing up its global pandemic response to ensure communities are put at the heart of an effective worldwide roll out of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Vaccines are only just beginning to be approved for use so we have a long way to go,” said Dan Irvine, Senior Director, Health and Nutrition, World Vision International. “But we know from our experience of helping communities respond to disease outbreaks like Ebola, Zika and HIV and AIDS, that unless communities are engaged early in planning processes there is a real risk people may reject, misunderstand or even spread false information about vaccines.”
World Vision is a global leader in grassroots community development and health promotion and is currently liaising with COVAX – a global initiative working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines – to ensure community engagement efforts are key to the roll out effort. The agency is calling on global leaders to ensure developing world countries are treated no differently than richer nations when it comes to receiving vaccines.
The NGO – which is not a vaccine distributor or provider – will be working on plans to combat grassroots fears, misinformation and potential resistance to forthcoming vaccination efforts. Trusted and influential faith leaders, community health workers and grassroots staff will be central to World Vision’s efforts to encourage vulnerable communities to accept the vaccines – when they become available.
World Vision’s Channels of Hope program sees World Vision work with faith leaders to educate their congregants and communities on the facts relating to health and other issues.
This program has been instrumental in addressing deadly diseases as well as keeping people healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we head into a New Year there is massive hope that vaccines will allow life to return to normal. But socialising communities to accept them is also half the battle,” said Irvine. “A vaccine is useless unless people are willing to take it, so we mustn’t underestimate the amount of work that is needed in the most vulnerable parts of the world to raise awareness about the benefits of vaccine compliance.”
World Vision’s COVID-19 response has already reached 58 million people with aid, assistance and stay-safe and prevention messaging that was successfully promoted via hundreds of thousands of faith leaders and grassroots health promoters. It now aims to mobilise those influential networks to support the roll out of vaccines and help communities hold duty bearers accountable for ensuring their fair allocation.
World Vision’s Dan Irvine said: “Billions have been spent on vaccine development and production. Funding for the socialisation efforts of vaccine roll out must also be an essential part of global plans. This worldwide effort is going to take many months but we are ready to partner with grassroots leaders to ensure that the vaccine is accessible to and accepted by everyone, especially the world’s most vulnerable.”