AN ANALYSIS OF KENYA’S MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS: ITS ROLE IN BUILDING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE COVID-19 VACCINE AND REALISATION OF THE BIG FOUR AGENDA

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20m
Abstract for Research Paper

Description

Following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) as global pandemic, on 31st December 2020, the WHO validated the first vaccine for distribution, amid rumours and misinformation on the effects of the vaccine. The same scenario was apparent when the Kenyan Government received its first shipment of the vaccine on 2nd March 2021, with reports from the media and Non-Governmental Organisations indicating that the rollout and uptake of the vaccine faced several challenges, including fears about its safety. Consequently, this study argued that the uptake of the vaccine by the Kenyan public may have been partly influenced by the information they received from the various media outlets and how the Kenyan Government’s Ministry of Health countered the misinformation. Thus, guided by the Social Representation Theory and employing an analytical research design, this study conducted a content analysis to examine the Ministry of Health’s Twitter and Facebook communications during the one week following the rollout exercise to administer the vaccine. The analysis focused on how the government tailored their messages to increase the Kenyan public’s confidence and to counter misinformation surrounding the vaccine. The study established that although the updates on Covid-19 were regular and timely, the messages focused on the numbers of new infections and fatalities, with scanty information on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Considering the WHO’s guideline that to manage uncertainties during a pandemic, public communication should incorporate information about the disease, risks, prevention measures and recommendations on how to counter misinformation, such insufficient information on the COVID-19 vaccine could be detrimental to the Government's realisation of the Big Four Agenda and achievement of universal health care.

Keywords: COVID-19, Big Four Agenda, Social Representation Theory, Media and Communication

Primary authors

Dr MOLLY ANYANGO ALI (MASENO UNIVERSITY) Ms JULIET ATIENO ODUOR (MAASAI MARA UNIVERSITY)

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