Community Myth Busters Clarify COVID-19 Vaccination
December 7th, 2023 | story
December 7th, 2023 | story
As he climbs into his truck and shuts the door, Fatao knows he has a full day of transporting and delivering sachets of water to the residents in Kukuom, a district in Ghana’s Ahafo Region. Fatao’s daily routine begins early every morning and comes to a close in the evening, when he sees his three children and wife.
Because Fatao comes into contact with many people throughout his day, he went to get a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on August 26, 2022. The next day, however, he fell ill. “I wasn’t able to eat. I was worried and felt the vaccine wasn’t safe,” he said.
The experience so distressed Fatao that he began telling his colleagues and customers to avoid the vaccine. While on his route and going through Goaso-Krofuom one day, he came across a community meeting sponsored by Hope for Future Generation, a sub-grantee of the JSI-led USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project. “I told the gathering of over 60 people not to go for the vaccine as it wasn’t safe,” he said. The project team listened to his concerns and followed up with him.
“I told the team everything I experienced and they educated me about the vaccine, that it is safe, and that some people may have side effects after vaccination but these were normal signs that their body is building protection,” Fatao said.
Yet even though the side effects were gone within two weeks of the first dose, Fatou refused to take the second shot for fear that they would return. The project team stayed in contact with and continued to follow up about the benefits of the vaccine and its safety.
“I finally agreed and went for the second jab on January 27, 2023. This time there were no side effects.” Fatao’s exchanges with the project team were so encouraging that he volunteered to serve as a project COVID-19 myth buster.
Each day, I reach out to people during my work as a truck driver, especially our sachet water customers and those in my neighborhood, and advise them to get vaccinated,” he said. “I share my experience to let them appreciate that the vaccine is indeed safe. I will continue to tell people that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and your community.”
Thanks to the USAID initiative for Global Vaccine Access, over 490,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the Ahafo Region. By the end of March 2023, more than 56 percent of the intended population had been vaccinated.
The USAID Care Continuum Project collaborated with the Ghana Health Service and 10 local civil society organizations (CSOs) to identify and train more than 500 community members like Fatao as COVID-19 myth busters in Ghana’s Western, Western North, and Ahafo regions. The myth busters include leaders of youth groups and faith-based institutions, teachers, traditional authorities, artisans, and community information center operators. They work with partner CSOs to overcome vaccine hesitancy, sharing their personal vaccination experience and dispelling myths and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.