Perceptions towards Government Communication Strategies on COVID-19 Vaccination in Kenya
Keywords:Government communication, Communication strategies, and COVID-19 pandemic
Kenya, like most countries in the world, continues to battle with the effects of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) popularly known as COVID-19. The rise in infections cannot be compared with a paltry 3% of the population that is fully vaccinated – a concern that puts the blame squarely on the way government has communicated on vaccine uptake. While there is an appreciation of constraining factors such as vaccine nationality ‘wars’, it is disturbing that where vaccines are availed, there remains anecdotal evidence on what spurs the hesitancy to take up vaccine in Kenya. This study sought to establish what drives the hesitancy in vaccine uptake by exploring the perceptions of COVID-19 survivors towards the communication strategies utilized by government to urge Kenyans to get vaccinated. The social influence theory provided a lens for understanding this phenomenon. Government communication strategies are competing with many voices that either deny the form of existence of the virus and hence refute the place of vaccines, or speak of the inefficiency of the vaccine, or create conspiracies around the use of vaccines. Good communication strategies seem to be the missing link in spurring the take up of COVID-19 vaccines and pushing the population to herd immunity. Only then, can the country encourage socio-economic development. This study answered research questions that explore problems, prospects, and perspectives that COVID-19 survivors (n=10) had towards the government communication strategies. The study took a phenomenological approach utilizing lived experiences of the survivors (5 now fully vaccinated and 5 are yet vaccinated). Explicated data was presented in themes. Participants noted use of different government communication strategies such as publicized vaccination of senior government officials; use of influencers; and use of media briefings. Based on findings and personal reflections, government communication strategies used by the government were reactive, pompous (or ignorant), and/or contradictory.
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