Vaccination: fighting disinformation and rumours

Armed with her megaphone, Thérèse reminds parents that they must continue to respect the vaccination schedule despite the coronavirus.

Feza Umande (translated from French by Ariane Apodaca)
Thérèse, une relais communautaire parlant sur son mégaphone
UNICEF DRC Umande
21 September 2020

“My goal is for all children from 0 to 11 months to be vaccinated even during this pandemic period,” explains Thérèse Mbuyi, community liaison for the city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in the country, many parents refuse to go to health centres to have their children vaccinated.

Talking with the families, Thérèse quickly understood where the problem came from: there were rumours that a vaccine against the coronavirus was being tested in health centres. “So we explain to them that it is just the routine immunisation that protects our children from preventable diseases,” says Thérèse. 

Thérèse fights against disinformation to promote the vaccination of children. The greater the number of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children, the greater the risk of epidemics. “An unprotected child can catch a disease and spread it to other children,” continues Thérèse. 

Each morning, Thérèse goes out to meet families to identify children who have not been vaccinated and to remind them the importance of vaccination. She also explains the different protective measures to them so they can protect themselves during vaccination sessions and in daily life.

Thérèse, une relais communautaire fait la sensibilisation dans un centre de vaccination
UNICEF DRC Umande

“Mothers are, little by little, resuming vaccination sessions,” says Thérèse with some satisfaction. Sometimes, it is necessary to go back to talk to the mothers several times to convince them, but Thérèse does so with enthusiasm.

UNICEF has provided masks, disinfectant gel, vests and megaphones to enable community liaisons to raise awareness among the population of Kinshasa and fight against disinformation. UNICEF helps health workers continue their essential work of protecting children from preventable diseases like polio, measles and tetanus, in order to prevent one health crisis from succeeding another.