Jan Dužda: Vaccination is the most effective weapon against COVID-19, Czech authorities need to campaign about its effects and importance
According to Jan Dužda, the Regional Coordinator of the Effective Health Support program who works for the National Institute of Public Health in the Czech Republic, vaccination is the most effective method for stopping the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in the long run both domestically and worldwide. Dužda discussed the issue during an interview for public broadcaster Czech Radio and its program "O Roma Vakeren" ("The Roma are Speaking").
"About vaccinations, certain misunderstandings predominate and our clients are afraid of side effects. However, they are relying on just one information source, a media outlet or Facebook, and they are not receiving data directly from experts," he said, adding that information about the pandemic or vaccination against the COVID-19 disease is something that his program is giving clients with a minimum amount of delay.
"We get such this information quite quickly and we then redistribute it. We inform our clients about how the material in the vaccine works and that it is not demonstrating any destructive repercussions. We're at the very beginning of its use, though, which makes it more difficult," he said, adding that in his view, some Romani people are among those denying the existence of the pandemic and allowing themselves to be influenced by different conspiracy theories.
"I believe this is quite individual. Some older Romani people perceive this as necessary to their protection, others don't believe it. However, it greatly depends on which social bubble they spend time in and to what extent they have access to information. Younger Romani people certainly have that access," he said.
"Our task is to inform people about when it will be their turn and what effects the vaccine does have," he said, adding that it would be ideal to undertake a massive campaign to inform people about the effects of the vaccine and the importance of vaccination itself. "Ideally we would see it everywhere we go - on television, on the radio, in public transport, in waiting rooms at doctor's offices. Brief, accurate information. Then the doubts, naturally, will be eliminated. If we vaccinate two-thirds of the people living here, the vaccination should work and this coronavirus should move into a controllable phase."
The fact that a stormy discussion about vaccination against COVID-19 is underway among Romani community members was confirmed by a recent live broadcast on ROMEA TV during which viewers were able to ask questions of Dr Marie Nejedlá of the National Institute of Public Health. Dr Nejedlá is leading the Effective Health Support program where Dužda works, which is focused on supporting the health of persons at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
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