COVID-19 vaccine rumors: Meghalaya’s epic battle against misinformation

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Acting on the wrong information can be harmful for the people and the state. Therefore, cautioning people against sharing or spreading misinformation on COVID-19,   Leaders of different faiths have asked the state government to come down heavily against faith leaders, media and others who are indulging in spreading wrong information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The suggestion was made during a meeting convened by the Chief Secretary MS Rao at the main secretariat here on Monday, to discuss the problem of hesitancy relating to the vaccination.

The state Government ropes in Religious and faith-based leaders across Meghalaya to manage the infodemic about COVID 19 vaccination. At the time of pandemic, in many hard-to-reach areas of Meghalaya, where people still do not use smartphones and internet, religious places and congregations can act as crucial platforms for information dissemination and addressing concern and queries related to vaccine as well as COVID-19.

According to a health official, the state is witnessing a high level of hesitancy in districts like South Garo Hills, North Garo Hills and East Garo Hills.

 

70 percent of the people in Shillong have been vaccinated. East Khasi Hills and two other districts West Garo Hills and South West Garo Hills have done exceptionally well when it comes to the vaccination coverage.

 

After the meeting, Director of Health Services (MI) Dr Aman War said, “They have suggested that the government should come down heavily on the faith leaders who are propagating wrong information about the vaccine.”

He said faith leaders have expressed concerns with regard to the ill effects of wrong information being circulated through various mediums and suggested the need to take action against media who are spreading the misinformation.

 

Dr War informed that the leaders of various faiths have expressed their willingness to give their hand of cooperation to enlighten the public on the benefits of vaccination.

 

“All the faith leaders who are present virtually and physically are in agreement that the vaccination is the only one good thing which can combat against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” he said

 

“Apart from the three cardinal instructions which we have given, vaccination is the key and they also have expressed the same,” he added.

 

The Director further informed that the faith leaders had expressed that they can reach out to their people only if the government allows re-opening of the places of worship adding “The government will accordingly take a call on this matter.”