ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s health authorities suspect an organised misinformation campaign is behind an unusual increase in vaccine hesitancy among the country’s youth, a health official said.
Deputy Health Services Director Dr Hemantha Herath told reporters on Tuesday (28) that a decline has been noted in vaccination of young people owing to misconceptions about side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.
“There is a lot of misconceptions. I think there’s an organised minsinformation campaign of side effects of the vaccine, which has resulted in some decline in vaccination.
“We ask the youth to go to the nearest vaccination centre and get the vaccine available there because we might have to limit vaccination for certain age groups in future rollouts,” he said.
The official’s statement comes a day after Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella revealed plans for a possible vaccine mandate for Sri Lanka.
Speaking to reporters in Kandy on Sunday (26), Rambukwella said if the need arises, the government may discuss a legal framework for such a mandate with the advice of health experts.
“Just as one has a right to one’s own life, there is a problem if one opposes decisions that will prevent someone else being infected. So we might have to take a decision, in the event of [a vaccine mandate] becomnig essential,” he said.
Though Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout has been largely successful despite delays, authorities have expressed concern over a disturbing reluctance among the country’s youth to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As of September 27, only 48 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20-29 age group have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while only 12.7 percent are fully vaccinated.
Mainstream and social media reports indicate that vaccine centres dedicated to youth are not as full as they should be. Young people also seem to show a preference for vaccines such as Pfizer-BionTech over the Chinese Sinopharm jab which is Sri Lanka’s most widely used COVID-19 vaccine to date. (Colombo/Sep28/2021)