DDA's CEO Collin Piper
DDA's CEO Collin Piper

Dominicans have spoken up on the myriad of reasons they choose to not be vaccinated and the private sector is taking note.

On 10th August the Discover Dominica Authority (DDA), in collaboration with the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) and the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA), launched a virtual survey, via Facebook and SMS, to ascertain the level of vaccine awareness in the country and determine the reasons people chose not to get vaccinated. This survey came to an end on 30th August with just under 1,000 people participating.

According to the results of the survey the top reasons given for not taking the vaccine are:

  • The long term side effects are unknown (214 responses)

  • The vaccine is new. Not enough information about it (180 responses)

  • The COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent me from getting the virus (179 responses)

  • I do not trust the vaccine (174 responses)

  • I am scared of side effects (98 responses)

  • I would like to know more information (86 responses)

The results of the survey led the private sector to further flesh out its four-phase plan to boost the vaccination rate on the island.

Phase two of this campaign is 'Awareness', where the partners evaluated the survey results to determine the best responses to be used as main questions for panel discussions, webinars, virtual information sessions, and testimonials.

They (DDA, DAIC, & DHTA) also liaised with medical professionals who would be best to deliver on this needed information. The Health Promotion Unit is also a key stakeholder in this regard.

Phase three involves the creation of new public service announcements (PSAs) by popular personalities and the 'regular Joe' to advocate for others to get vaccinated.

You will recall though that PSAs exist and have been broadcast since the vaccines arrived in Dominica earlier this year. However, Director of Tourism Colin Piper, told The Sun the new messages are more targeted than what existed prior.

"The new PSAs will be similar to that of before but rather than generalizing, the PSAs will be tailored responses to the main concerns/ reason of vaccine hesitancy," he said. Phase four of this strategy, titled 'Incentives', has been merged with Phase 3. This will see the organizing and advertising of incentives to further push the vaccination drive. These incentives include shopping coupons for vaccinated individuals, events catered to vaccinated people only, restaurant dining experience for vaccinated persons only, and establishing ease to the Covid-19 protocols per vaccination percentage.

"Incentives in phase 4 are geared to patrons who are already vaccinated," Piper said. "Unlike the past which was targeted directly at unvaccinated persons to get vaccinated but will act as a reward for being vaccinated, which will indirectly act as a vaccination drive."

Dominica is already seeing an uptick in the number of people being vaccinated, part of this increase can be attributed to the select action taken by the private sector in response to the information gathered from the survey. As of Tuesday 16th November 28, 590 people had received the first dose while 26, 544 had received the second vaccine dose.

"As we speak, the survey results have been in effect and assisted the Vaccination Unit to curb their approach and maximize on efforts to increase vaccination numbers", he said.

Piper, and the three partners by extension, is confident in the customized strategies utilized to address the concerns of those who participated in the survey.

"Based on current strides by the Vaccination Unit and feedback from the campaign partners we are certain that this drive will be effective," he said.

There is also a monitoring and evaluation component of the overall strategic plan to gauge the response of the Dominican public. The private sector is hoping to complete the merged Phases 3 and 4 by end of November 2021.