The COVID-19 vaccination drive in Hong Kong began in February 2021. However, despite the government providing vaccination for its residents for free, till 13 July 2021, only about 26.9% of the city’s population has been fully inoculated, which is way below the globally-accepted level for attaining herd immunity. The HKSAR government has introduced a number of incentives for all vaccinated residents including relaxation of social distancing norms, organizing lucky draws with the business sector, and rewarding vaccinated government employees with vaccination leave. In spite of this, the pace of vaccination has not gained momentum.
In response to this challenge, Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication is contributing to a new initiative aimed at supplying decision-makers with timely evidence-based insights. In collaboration with the Department of Computer Science, the HKBU-funded “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong” project will share the findings of various studies being conducted on vaccine hesitancy, to help authorities formulate more effective communication strategies. The interdisciplinary team will publish weekly reports on research related to vaccine hesitancy.
“Misinformation has emerged as the prime cause of vaccine hesitancy,” says Professor Huang Yu, Dean of the School of Communication and the Vice-Chair of the project. “Finding effective ways to disseminate accurate and reliable information to the public could be one of the main ways to increase the vaccination rate. Our dedicated team aims to study this global public health issue through an array of perspectives such as misinformation in media and on social media, rumour clarification, and debunking practices by the public, to contribute to addressing the several challenges that COVID-19 has caused, in Hong Kong and around the world.”
Another key objective is to educate the socially or economically vulnerable sections of society by providing comprehensive vaccine education. This project will support relevant research into such communities, and also encourage the university’s faculty and students to raise awareness about public health challenges and contribute their knowledge and skills towards seeking potential solutions.
Contact Person: Dr. Xiaoyi FU of Department of Journalism
Photo Credit: info.gov.hk