What appears to be an unfair decision to put social media influencers among the 1.5 million people with priority to be inoculated against COVID-19 in Indonesia; it is essentially a communication strategy of the Indonesian government to help clarify vaccines and understand the benefits of them, advances Reuters. It is a case of saying that influencers are literally doing public service.
The vaccination campaign in Indonesia started this Wednesday, and in addition to President Joko Widodo, Indonesian television star Rafii Ahmad, with almost 50 million followers on Instagram, also received his dose of the vaccine. The 33-year-old star wrote a message on her account, accompanied by the video to receive the dose: “Thank God for the vaccine … Don’t be afraid of vaccines”, accompanied by an emoji heart and the Indonesian flag.
The decision to include influencers among the approximately 1.5 million health workers who are on the front lines against the disease was confirmed by official health ministry officials as a deliberate communication strategy. Indonesia is one of the most affected countries in Southeast Asia, with more than 869,000 cases and 25,000 deaths, but with a population very skeptical about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
Considering that Indonesians are among the users, globally, who use social media the most, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the government opted for an awareness campaign through its main influencers of the platforms. Health agency officials hope that artists and public figures will be able to share the positive messages around vaccines, especially to younger people.
Polls show that only 37% of Indonesians want to be vaccinated, 40% are considering it and 17% refuse the vaccine. Some doctors also raised doubts after the initial use of the Chinese Sinovac Biotech vaccine, as its studies showed an efficacy between 50-91%.
There is already a dispute about the choice of influencers, since Rafii Ahmad was photographed at a party, hours after receiving the vaccine, since the effect is not immediate. His bad examples, of being in the middle of unmasked crowds, were pointed out in the wave of criticism on social networks. The influencer has already publicly apologized, however.