ONE, UNICEF and African Union join forces with TikTok to strengthen vaccine confidence in Africa

Joint press release by UNICEF, ONE, African Union and TikTok

26 August 2021
girl-holding-mobile-phone
UNICEF South Africa/2020/Prinsloo

JOHANNESBURG, 26 August 2021 - The ONE Campaign, UNICEF and the African Union have today launched a new TikTok campaign, to counter misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines on social media.

This new initiative - under the hashtag #MythOrVax - aims to dispel myths and correct inaccurate information about COVID-19 while addressing ongoing fears and concerns and raising awareness about the importance of vaccinations. Phase one of the campaign, which is open to the public, kicks off with a Quiz that tests TikTok users’ knowledge of COVID-19 vaccines.

Amid the current COVID-19 surge in Africa, a May 2021 survey conducted by Geopoll shows that only 48% of people across six major African countries would take the opportunity to get the vaccine right away if it was available. This figure is down from 62% in November 2020, further illustrating the impact of continued negative information about the vaccine. While the low vaccination rates in Africa are predominantly attributed to limited availability and supply bottlenecks, low vaccine confidence in the continent threatens to undermine the fight against the pandemic.

The second phase of the campaign begins on September 4, where the organisations behind this campaign will bring together prominent African celebrities and experts such as, Yemi Alade, Pearl Thusi, Sauti Sol, Maps Maponyane, Dr. John Nkengasong (Director, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), Dr. Salim Abdool Karim (Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of KwaZulu-Natal; CAPRISA Professor for Global Health in the Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University) and Dr. Lwazi Manzi (Head of Secretariat of the AU Commission on COVID-19) to discuss concerns around the lack of vaccine confidence in Africa and what’s needed to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the need to counter misinformation and strengthen vaccine confidence and uptake, Edwin Ikhuoria, Africa Executive Director of the ONE Campaign said, “While the rise of vaccine hesitancy is not solely an African phenomenon, its effects on the continent are particularly damaging given the low vaccination rates attributable to supply constraints and slow roll outs. As Africa continues the fight to secure and administer life-saving vaccines, it is imperative that all stakeholders actively address the misinformation and disinformation on vaccines which fuels hesitancy. Failure to do so threatens to cripple Africa’s pandemic response.”

“Young people in Africa have many questions about COVID-19 vaccines,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Their search for vaccine-related answers is often online where they are met with a deluge of information, including misinformation and rumors. The ‘Myth or Vax’ initiative will help to further engage young people in learning about COVID-19 vaccines and to clarify some of the common misconceptions that are circulating.”

Ms Prudence Ngwenya, Head of the Youth Development Division at the African Union Commission, speaking about the importance of mobilizing youth towards curbing the spread of misinformation said, “We are very excited to launch a campaign that addresses vaccine hesitancy with our partners. Our role as the Youth Division at the African Union Commission is to mobilize young people and create an enabling environment for them to make positive actions. COVID-19 undoubtedly disrupted a lot of our lives and with the development of vaccines around the world a lot of the truth has gotten lost in the skepticism, so we thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to correct some myths and in the process create exciting and memorable content that will resonate with Africa’s youth”.

Media contacts

Toby Fricker
Chief of Communication & Partnerships
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 61 418 7486
Innocent Edache
ONE
Tel: +234 90 2176 5342

About ONE

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organisation of over 9 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, we raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programmes. Read more at www.one.org.

About the African Union

The African Union (AU) is a continental body consisting of 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999). The Commission is the AU's secretariat and undertakes the day-to-day activities of the Union. It is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and its functions, includeing representing the AU and defending its interests under the guidance of and as mandated by the Assembly and the Executive Council. Read more at https://au.int/en/commission

About TikTok

TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. TikTok has global offices including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Seoul, and Tokyo. www.tiktok.com.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in over 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special efforts on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children everywhere.

Working with a range of partners, UNICEF has had a presence in South Africa since the end of apartheid and continues to work towards bettering the lives of all children in the country.

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