The government has warned people from sending false and misleading information on the vaccinations in an effort to reduce the uptake of the vaccines when they finally hit the shores.
While the government and health authorities have been working to contain the virus and slow down its transmission, they have also been struggling to put a lid on wild and baseless conspiracy theories
Church leaders, mainly, have been on the forefront of trying to stop their followers from accepting Covid-19 citing unsubstantiated claims and spreading conspiracy theories against various vaccinations.
During the initial days of the coronavirus outbreak, an incomprehensible theory about 5G – the next-generation wireless network technology – causing the health crisis made its way to social media platforms.
Director for Epidemiology and Disease Control Dr Portia Manangazira said it was improper and reckless for persons who are not qualified to comment on medical and scientific issues.
“So it’s in the best interest of the public that technically sound persons make the comments, recommendations and discussions around the vaccines. I have seen a lot of sentiments and emotions, but the deficiency in the technical detail of what the vaccines are made of and therefore the possible routes and mechanisms of protection.
“As with all infectious diseases, the current drastic preventive measures of lockdowns, masking up, social distancing and basic hygiene supported by adequate water and sanitation form the primary prevention strategies.
A number of conspiracy theories are also black painting the new coronavirus vaccines, calling them Bill Gates’ efforts to insert chips into the body.
Dr Manangazira added that given the severity and extent of the pandemic and its possible duration for the next two years, population immunity must be guaranteed and vaccines are key in building up the required immunity.
“Fear, anxiety and some perceptions are from lack of adequate information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic itself being new and ever-changing. When there is an information gap, people tend to fill it up with emotion, myths and misconceptions and even negativity that we have seen in both resident and diaspora Zimbabweans.
“I would encourage people to choose life, acquire correct and factual information and share that rather than the trash we see circulating,” she said.
The spread of health misinformation has always had an ideological dimension. This is likely because the use of ideological concepts has been shown to be an effective strategy to draw people into a community and to facilitate the uncritical acceptance of contentious scientific perspective.