Corona virus disease or COVID-19 is a newly discovered virus back in 2019 related to the respiratory system (WHO, 2021). This virus was first discovered in Wuhan City, China on 31st December 2019. As of February 19th 2021, Indonesia has reached 1,263,299 COVID-19 cases and is still increasing day by day. (SATGAS COVID-19, 2021)
One way to stop this global pandemic is through vaccination. Vaccine is a biological product that stimulates your body to produce antibodies (Czochor J. & Turchick A., 2012); while vaccination is simply the process of injecting that product to your body. For COVID-19 itself, the vaccine, CoronaVac, has completed clinical trial phase 3 by a Chinese biopharmacy company called Sinovac. Some countries permitted the use of this vaccine under emergency use authorization (EUA). Those countries are Brazil, Chile, Turkey, and Indonesia. CoronaVac is reported to have around 50-60% efficacy level (BBC, 2021)
Apparently, there are some groups of people who are against this policy. One of them is the Member of People’s Representative Council (bahasa: DPR), Ribka Tjiptaning. She clearly stated that she doesn’t want to be vaccinated due to its state which was still in clinical trial phase 3. She also mentioned the side effect of vaccination, she took polio vaccination for example which caused some to be paralyzed. “Vaccination will only worsen our condition” complete her. Her statements were aired to the social media, and caused rage among society. There are people who refused to be vaccinated with a reason that they don’t want to be a free guinea pig for China. They also mentioned that this vaccination has a potency to be commercialized.
Now, Indonesia is constantly battling against the rapid spread of inaccurate information and fake news, and it has turned out to be a serious challenge for the vaccination campaign. Even before the vaccination campaign started, several survey institutions had done their survey on people, the result is people tend to refuse to be vaccinated or were doubtful about this newly developed vaccine due to infodemic. Laporcovid19.org published their survey in which only 31% of respondents are willing to receive a vaccine developed by Sinovac; the rest 69% respondents were not willing to get vaccinated. According to Indonesia’s Communication and Information Technology Ministry, they have detected at least 70 fake news items from Oct. 2020-Jan. 18, 2021 regarding COVID-19 vaccine.
A national survey on acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine was carried out the Ministry of Health together with the Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NITAG), with support from UNICEF and WHO. The survey displayed ¾ of respondents stated that they had heard of the COVID-19 vaccine, on the other hand 2/3 of respondents stated that they were willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Another interesting result is that there nearly 28% of respondents were hesitant, and a proportion said they would refuse. Those who refused cited safety, effectiveness and halal vaccines as their factors of consideration.
Fake news and conspiracy theories floating around social media messaging groups are confusing people. There is a message saying that the COVID-19 vaccine contained haram (forbidden) ingredients, claiming that vaccines implanted chips in the human body, causing the death of dozens of people. A viral video on Jan. 19, with a caption, that a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech killed a student in Jember regency of East Java province, was shared many times on Facebook and received tons of comments. In the wake of doing a fact-check, results showed that the video was dated back to 2018 when dozens of boarding school students fainted due to dehydration after getting shots against diphtheria.
So how can we put a stop to the continuous spread of misinformation? Changing the communication strategy of the government. Government should explain that vaccines are only a part of efforts to put pandemics under control, adding that it is also important for the authority to increase testing, tracing, and treatment. Siti Nadia Tarmizi, official spokesperson for COVID-19 vaccination said one of the strategies to refute fake news was providing more information about vaccines based on facts and science, using government websites, including Covid19.go.id, https://sehatnegeriku.kemkes.go.id/, and ministry page as the main channel. Further, the government is involving community health centers, religious leaders, and village officials to maximize the communication.
Anadolu Agency, Indonesia Battles Spread of Vaccine Misinformation, Anadolu Agency, viewed January 31st 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/indonesia-battles-spread-of-vaccine-misinformation/2124319#.
BBC.com, Sinovac: Brazil Results Show Chinese Vaccine 50.4% Effective, BBC, viewed February 19th 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55642648#:~:text=A%20coronavirus%20vaccine%20developed%20by,latest%20results%20released%20by%20researchers.
Covid19.go.id, Data Sebaran, SATGAS COVID-19, viewed February 19th 2021, https://covid19.go.id/.
Fauzi. G, Ribka Tjiptaning, Orang Pertama Menolak Vaksin di Indonesia, CNN Indonesia, viewed January 31st 2021, https://m.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20210113074635-32-592938/ribka-tjiptaning-orang-pertama-menolak-vaksin-di-indonesia.
Laporcovid.org, Kurang dari Separuh Masyarakat Mau Menerima Vaksin Covid19, laporcovid.org, viewed January 31st 2021, https://laporcovid19.org/2020/10/kurang-dari-separuh-masyarakat-mau-menerima-vaksin-covid-19/
WHO, Coronavirus, World Health Organization, viewed January 31st 2021, https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1.