Opinion: The prime minister should stop blaming media for poor vaccine sentiment and introspect

Prayut told his government on Tuesday to keep an eye on people who were peddling fake news about coronavirus vaccines.

What he should actually tell government officials is to be more careful when providing information about vaccines to the public.

What is the point of having the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) if you cannot use it to clearly communicate with the public?

If anyone is to blame about the lack of confidence in the vaccine program, it is the government who were unclear about their program from the very beginning.

This is the same government that said it did not want the Thai people to be ‘lab rats’ for vaccines (as an excuse for its lethargy in ordering) yet are now bringing in millions of SinoVac vaccines.

The same vaccine that the World Health Organization has yet to approve.

Forget Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and the other vaccines that have led to the west’s reopening. We are going to bring in a vaccine that is co-owned by the same group responsible for the agricultural-smog in Thailand.

All of these missteps created doubt within the Thai public, it was further exacerbated when it was revealed that the local AstraZeneca vaccine was going to be made by a company with no track record of producing vaccines and murky connections to the government.

It is also highly rich that the prime minister is blaming media houses for spreading disinformation about vaccines when he himself chose not to receive the SinoVac vaccine and opted to wait, instead, for the AZ dose.

According to YouGov, an international research data and analytics group, the percentage of Thai people willing to take the vaccine dropped from 83 per cent in January to 63 per cent in May.  

This has nothing to do with the media but the government’s unclear and often diluted messaging when it comes to not only the vaccines it has brought in but the timeline of their availability.

If the government is looking for a scapegoat to pin their failings on, the media is not it. All the media is reporting is the information that the government is feeding them and that information is spotty and often contradictory between different government organizations.

Perhaps Prime Minister Prayut should take a long and hard look in the mirror at why the public are so wary and streamline government communication channels.

Perhaps our prime minister should start shouldering some of the blame.

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