Government should launch vaccination information campaign as soon as possible

On the occasion of the devastating results of the vaccination process in Montenegro so far, the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) appeals to the Government of Montenegro and the Ministry of Health to urgently launch a campaign to inform citizens about the COVID-19 vaccination process.

The data indicate that the number of people in Montenegro who have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccination so far is less than 200 per day, which does not encourage the public. Certain information about particularly low vaccination rates among health workers causes further concern.

Although almost two months have passed since the adoption of the National Strategy for the Introduction, Distribution and Deployment of Covid-19 Vaccines, the Ministry of Health has not yet launched a well-designed and massive campaign to inform citizens about the need to be vaccinated, thus limiting the serious consequences of coronavirus infection. This Strategy provides a detailed plan and description of the campaign for vaccination, i.e. immunization of the population against the coronavirus. According to the Action Plan that accompanies the Strategy, the campaign should have started on 1 February with the adoption of the Strategy for the Communication Campaign, by launching digital and print materials and periodical research of the public opinion.

Such a delay in the campaign when time is precious, accompanied by non-compliance with prescribed measures enforced to combat the pandemic, contributes to a drastic increase in the number of deaths and people infected over the past few months, especially over the last two days, and represents a matter of concern for further pandemic control.

It is extremely important to launch the vaccination campaign immediately and not wait for a larger number of vaccines to arrive, because citizens’ attitudes about vaccination will not change overnight. This need was also highlighted due to the divided opinions of citizens and distrust in the effectiveness of some available vaccines.

The CCE urges the Government of Montenegro and the Ministry of Health to start informing citizens as soon as possible and in more detail about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, in cooperation with the media, relevant organizations dealing with public health, as well as prominent activists and other social actors. We understand that they are not able to coordinate the planned activities related to informing citizens and raising their awareness of the importance of immunization due to workload and comprehensive activities of procuring a larger number of vaccines and fighting the coronavirus on other fronts, although this may indicate the lack of adequate organization. Therefore, multisectoral cooperation should be developed, all stakeholders should be mobilized and a professional communication team should be urgently formed, which will contribute to the launch of the campaign as soon as possible and the preparation of the necessary educational and information materials for the public following the vaccination plan.

Tamara Milas, Human Rights Programme Coordinator