Malaysian NGO focuses on fathers to fight Covid-19 vaccination misinformation

(From left) Joshua Hong, Jason Leong and a volunteer of Better Dads Malaysia. ― Picture courtesy of Jason Leong
(From left) Joshua Hong, Jason Leong and a volunteer of Better Dads Malaysia. ― Picture courtesy of Jason Leong

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PETALING JAYA, Feb 16 ― Misinformation surrounding Covid-19 vaccines continue to swirl on the internet and social media.

Among the many myths out there are that they are unsafe to use because they were developed in a short period of time and contain implants, microchips or any form of tracking device.

Misinformation adds on to the difficult task of ensuring a country’s citizens are vaccinated.

To combat such falsehoods, there are a number of people who can dissuade others from buying into it.

Among this is the father as head of a family.

Non-profit organisation Better Dads Malaysia founder and adviser Jason Leong said a father’s influence was huge for their children as they usually looked up to their fathers for strength, confidence, encouragement and support.

“In a predominantly patriarchal society like Malaysia, fathers wield a tremendous influence over their families and serve as role models for their children.”

Leong said that if fathers had confidence in Covid-19 vaccines and were ready for the vaccination, then their children would readily accept it as part of protecting their own health.

“Without the protection of vaccines, diseases can spread quickly and with terrible consequences.

“It shows that when there is a vaccine available for a disease, fathers should keep their children and themselves up to date with the vaccination to avoid contracting diseases.”

Malaysia is expected to receive the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines this month.

Dispelling myths on the Covid-19 vaccines

Better Dads Malaysia chairman Joshua Hong said there were still a number of people who were doubtful due to the Covid-19 vaccines misinformation.

He added that many were hesitant to take the vaccines because they were developed too fast.

“Covid-19 vaccines were developed more quickly by scientists and researchers who have been studying coronaviruses for decades.

“Also, because Covid-19 is so widespread, the process of vaccine development involved an unprecedented worldwide collaboration and the researchers strong funding support from a wide range of sponsors.

“This misinformation is potentially harmful or dangerous and has influenced people to view the vaccines with suspicion and fear,” he said.

Parents building Covid-19 vaccine confidence in their children

Leong added that fathers and parents needed to be mindful of any information that they read online regarding the Covid-19 vaccine.

He said some people were fearful of taking the Covid-19 vaccines because of what they read online, especially when they were unable to answer their children’s rebuttal questions on the vaccines.

“If the parents or the father is not educated or well-informed about the vaccines, how will they answer their children's queries on the vaccines?

“As such, parents should go the extra mile by examining materials online and to see whether these articles are consolidated with facts and quotes from experts.

“Reading beyond the headlines is also vital as headlines of articles might be sensational at times.

“Look for diverse sources to cross check what is online ― to get a better picture of what is trustworthy or not.”

Mothers supporting their spouses’ messages about the vaccines

Hong added that mothers play a role in supporting and affirming their spouses’ communication and positive messages about the vaccines to their children.

“Both parents cannot be speaking on two different sides when it comes to the vaccines and protecting the family.

“Mothers should also reinforce their spouses’ message on the perks of Covid-19 vaccines.

“This adds certainty or else their children would be confused by different messages from their parents.”

Better Dads Malaysia organised its first online forum on January 26 to specifically educate families and fathers about the Covid-19 vaccines.

The forum on Covid-19 vaccines that is on Better Dads Malaysia's Facebook group. ― Picture courtesy via Jason Leong
The forum on Covid-19 vaccines that is on Better Dads Malaysia's Facebook group. ― Picture courtesy via Jason Leong

“The idea behind the online forum was to help men equip and prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for their families, and to assist them to communicate better with their family and children.

“We had 150 viewers and we expect the numbers to increase in another upcoming forum that will be in various languages in early March this year,” he said.



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