There is an urgent need to invigorate vaccine confidence, the world over, in response to the COVID-9 pandemic and here in the Caribbean, we need to up the ante in terms of pushing the agenda for the sake of our own sustainable development. The Global Business Leadership Forum, led by Nigel Salina, has taken up the mantle to spearhead a campaign of vaccine prioritisation and sensitisation of its benefits.
Let’s Do It For Tomorrow (LDIFT) is both a dynamic campaign and a poignant slogan. LDIFT hopes to change the mindset of vaccine-hesitant folk, as well as share hopeful enlightenment with those branding themselves as anti-vaxxers.
The campaign is appealing to better judgment, supported by scientific data and experiential testimonies to prompt a widespread vaccine confidence response across the region.
The LDIFT is both a crusade and a slogan with international links to Global Citizen, an international education and advocacy organisation, and AfroChampions, a public-private partnership set up to galvanise African resources and institutions, globally. The Oxygen with Nicole (O2N) Foundation is facilitating the roll-out, regionally.
The initiative serves as a catalyst connecting the Caribbean to the rest of the world. The efforts of this initiative are sanctioned by the World Health Organisation, Pan American Health Organisation, Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Inter-Religious Organisation of T&T, the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom).
The challenge in evangelising a public to a vaccine confidence majority is less about spreading the word on the danger of the coronavirus but more about disseminating assurance on the safety of the vaccines.
Feedback, here in T&T, has indicated change-of-heart stances from anti-vaxxers and the vaccine-hesitant are directly related to the overwhelmingly positive results of safely vaccinated persons—the observation that persons who have been vaccinated for months have no sign of side effects as speculated by the vaccine-sceptical.
A young creative in Scarborough expressed that it is clearly safe and that no one is dying and this motivated her to get vaccinated.
Another woman from central Trinidad shared that all the vaccinated persons of whom she is aware have had no problems since being vaccinated. And a gentleman from Morvant was reassured by the fact that all his friends who were vaccinated have had no side effects.
Pro-vaccine messages coming from trusted sources—family doctor, pastor/priest, friends and relatives seem to resonate with persons even more than public service announcements coming from mainstream institutions.
However, the integration of scientific proof, servicing the majority, twined with personal experiential testimony, motivating the individual, will bolster the LDIFT vaccine confidence initiative with a view towards future life chances.
Testimonials abound a daughter whose father is a doctor reassured her of the need to vaccinate.
People who have been influenced one way or another from recommendations from friends, relatives, co-workers, some admitting that they were nagged into relinquishing and even those egged on because of existing comorbidities.
One of the more current persuasive arguments is the deciphering that not being vaccinated will prevent people from doing things/partaking in activities as articulated vehemently by President Macron of France which is stirring up a turbulent debate over vaccine mandates.
“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” proclaims President Biden confirming the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) findings that 99 per cent of recent deaths were unvaccinated and 97 per cent of recent hospitalisations were unvaccinated.
The ongoing challenge is to transform the vaccine-resistant to the vaccinated championed by the clarion call, Let’s Do It For Tomorrow.
LDIFT is launching its campaign, virtually, the contents of which will be played out on social and traditional media platforms, regionally, to make our Caribbean citizens informed and aware of the urgency and security of vaccinations in the face of a pandemic.
This is the way to regain public health balance and resuscitate socio-economic equilibrium. It is our intention to engender trust in the vaccines, their providers and the process.
Vaccine hesitancy is less about misinformation and more about relationship assurance so it becomes imperative to build trust in governments, scientists and the media.
Additionally, it is essential to generate a momentum that fuels a way forward for our future generations, with a commitment to each other’s survival. In other words, be our brother’s keeper and let’s do it for tomorrow.