Reaching Vulnerable populations
Addressing misinformation, misconception, and rumours against COVID-19 vaccination in IDPs
Mr Assefa Boro and Mrs Genet Birara are a couple living in the Jara IDP site, Habru Woreda, North Wollo Zone of Amhara regional State. They live in a narrow single room of the Jara IDP site with their 10-years-old daughter, Samrawit Assefa and their 5-year-old son. Yonas Assef. Before they fled to Jara, they were living in Alamata town. Mr Assefa has been leading his household with a monthly salary from working as a guard at an organization and his part-time masonry work.
"I used to go to private and public health facilities to get medical service for myself and my family. She (his wife) had an antenatal care follow-up and gave birth to both of our children in the hospital. I had no financial problem getting health services," said Mr Assefa, remembering the good times he had before the COVID-19 pandemic and before they fled to the Jara IDP site.
Mr Aseffa and his household face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Hearing and seeing news through different media about COVID-19 cases in other countries, my family was scared of COVID-19 infection", said Ato Assefa. In addition, to being frustrated and scared of the infection, Mr Asssefa and his household faced many social and economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Due to this disease, we, those who depend on daily incomes, suffered a lot. I could not feed my family since many construction works were closed due to the disease. So, I had to sell my home equipment to feed my family. I sold my bed and my water collecting tanker", explained Mr Assefa about the challenges he and his family faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All the challenges they overcame made Mr Asssefa and his family one of the families waiting eagerly for the availability of COVID-19 vaccination.
Asked about other people's acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination, "Although there are people who believe different rumours, misinformation and misconceptions, most people will accept if proper health education is given to them", replied Mr Assefa. "There are rumours and misconceptions about this vaccination on this IDP site. Some say the vaccine is not good in hot areas, and others say the vaccine is not good for weaker people and others say the vaccine is not good while we are hungry",
Mr Assefa expressed his thought about their vulnerability to COVID-19 infection and the importance of getting vaccines, he continued. "But the vaccine is more important for us than for others since we are more vulnerable due to different issues such as we are living in congested conditions, the area is not convenient to live and practice prevention methods, we are not getting food as we used to when we were at our homes", Mr Assefa and his family are vaccinated against COVID-19 Assefa and Genet believes they will suffer a lot if they get COVID-19 in this inconvenient and hot condition/area.
Thanks to health care providers working at the Jara IDP site, Assefa and his wife are vaccinated against COVID-19 during the nationwide 3rd round campaign. In addition, Assefa and his wife, Genet, convinced four other families to get immunized by explaining the importance of vaccination.
Recognizing the pandemic's impact and the vaccines' benefits for the community, UNICEF supported Amhara Regional Health Bureau, North Wollo Zonal Health Department, and Habru Woreda Health Office in conducting vaccination campaign activities at the community level, including for reaching those residing in IDP camps with COVID-19 vaccines. In addition to technical support, UNICEF also provided financial support of 348,899 US$ (17,949, 055.13 Birr) via Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). The funding is mainly utilized for COVID-19 vaccination demand promotion activities, including advocacy, subnational-level coordination, community engagement and mobilization activities and capacity building at Regional, Zonal, Woreda and Kebele levels. In addition, UNICEF provides technical support for the regional health bureau, zonal health department, and Woreda health office on cold chain management and planning vaccination campaigns.