Get people to share experience

Dr Bernard Ting

KUCHING: The authorities should get more people who have received their vaccines to speak up and share their experience in order to assuage fears and concerns over Covid-19 vaccinations and boost public acceptance. A medical lecturer at the Department of Psychological Medicine, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Dr Bernard Ting, said the key issue with regard to taking the Covid-19 vaccine was fear and uncertainty.

“People like to be in control. When we are not sure what may come after the vaccination, we tend to ‘wait and see’ and ‘let others try first’,” said the psychiatrist when contacted by New Sarawak Tribune.

He pointed out that many people were initially hesitant to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, but once people took it and reported no significant side effects, more people were convinced that this vaccine was safe.

When commenting on a recent news article in which psychologists said influential people and social media influencers need to be mobilised to promote vaccinations and counter misinformation from anti-vaxxers, Dr Ting said one first needs to understand the psychology of anti-vaxxers.

“Some may have bad experiences themselves. Some may have fears due to the small portion of people who experienced unwanted adverse effects. Some may just follow what others say due to limited knowledge about the vaccines and their effects,” he said.

He added that using influential people and social media influencers to promote vaccinations could certainly be one of the strategies implemented to improve public acceptance.

However, he said this tactic should not be limited to this group alone but instead generalised to include people who have received the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Only those who have experienced the process can give the best testimonies to others in the community,” he said.

While he acknowledged that it might not be easy to clear rumours and misinformation in this digital era, he advised to let the truth speak for itself.

“Meanwhile, continue to educate the people,” urged Dr Ting.