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To Counter Anti-Vaxxers, Get Influencers To Promote Vaccination — Psychologists

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SHAH ALAM, June 7 — To counter misinformation from anti-vaxxers, we need to mobilise influential people as well as social media influencers to promote vaccination, say psychologists.

SOLS Health-Thrive WellResearch and Advocacy director, Dr Arman Rashid said we have to speak the same language as anti-vaxxers in reaching out to the wider society.

“Studies show those who believe in fake news online are more likely to be persuaded by influencers than experts, which means we need influencers to carry the scientific evidence even though they may not be experts themselves.

“Misinformation about vaccines from anti-vaxxers is not new but has gained momentum with their movement growing online and it is easy for some individuals to believe in fake news based on reading a blog or watching a video, which is why digital literacy is important amongst all age groups,” he said.

An actor as well as an influencer, Beto Kusyairy, 41, said Malaysians should pay attention to what the experts have to say regarding COVID-19, rather than forwarded texts on Whatsapp and Telegram, that are able to skew their perception towards the fatal virus.

We have experts in their respective fields. Doctors, religious scholars or muftis in Malaysia and around the world have recommended getting the vaccine.

“So who are they (antivaxxers) to go against these experts? You just have to think logically,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

Beto Kusyairy who has over 642,000 followers on Instagram and had taken his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at Universiti Malaya vaccination centre (PPV) six days ago, was seen urging others to do so on his Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Recently, de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan had reportedly said that anti-vaccination groups could risk action under Sedition Act 1948 if found inciting people against the COVID-19 vaccine.

Takiyuddin said action could also be taken under other existing laws, including the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, as well as the Emergency Ordinance 2021.

Meanwhile, Arman said in psychology terms, proclaiming vaccines as unsafe by ignoring scientific evidence has been termed as the ‘Dunning-Kruger’ effect and this happens when individuals overestimate what they know and underestimate what they don’t know, leading to strongly held views despite science saying otherwise.

“Research from a consortium of United States (US) universities found the Dunning-Kruger effect plays an important role in false information and propaganda against vaccinations,” he said adding that Prof David Dunning of Michigan University was the one who coined the term that warns about the harmful consequences of ignorance as this is a form of cognitive bias ignoring gaps in our knowledge and expertise.

In the case of social media, Arman said the Dunning-Kruger effect gets further amplified as isolated anti-vaxxers get a disproportionate voice online.

“They feel vindicated by ‘likes’ endorsing opinions lacking scientific evidence, which makes them more and more oblivious about their knowledge gaps,” he said.

Arman said in the age of self-proclaimed online experts, we see this effect more and more amongst anti-vaxxers as they not only overestimate themselves but also underestimate experts.

He said social media serves as a powerful tool for anti-vaxxers to project themselves as experts, particularly in an age when anyone can be a specialist online, which leads to self-proclaimed experts who lack any scientific expertise about vaccines, spreading misinformation.

“In most cases, anti-vaxxers seek to influence others as a form of validation and endorsement of their isolated views that they know have been predominantly rejected by mainstream society. They are often motivated by conspiracy theories, particularly about geopolitical powers and pharmaceutical companies,” said Arman.

Meanwhile, Universiti Putra Malaysia Teaching Hospital (HPUPM) Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Medicine and Psychiatry lecturer Dr Ruziana Masiran said the existence of this anti-vaccine group started with the vaccine for smallpox in 1800.

Ruziana is in agreement with Dr Arman’s view that their distrust toward the vaccine is because they do not understand or doubt the science or ingredients in the vaccine.

She said the latest studies by Murphy et al. (2021) in the United Kingdom and Ireland, published in the leading journal ‘Nature’ found that those who rejected the COVID-19 vaccine received less information about the pandemic from authoritative sources.

“The distrust has increased because there is a law that requires children to be vaccinated to enable them to attend public schools.

“Unfortunately, the decision of this group of people not to vaccinate themselves or their children has contributed to the re-emergence of infectious diseases that have been or almost eradicated,” she said citing that measles was declared eliminated in 2002 but there was a resurgence in 2014.

Source: BERNAMA

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More Than 20 Million of Adult Population Fully Vaccinated

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KUALA LUMPUR,  Sept 30  –A total of 20,053,472 individuals or 85.7 per cent of the adult population in the country have completed their COVID-19 vaccination as of yesterday.

Based on the Health Ministry’s data on COVIDNOW, 22,017,043 individuals or 94.1 per cent  of the adults in the country have received at least one dose of the vaccine until yesterday.

It also showed 40,206 individuals or 1.3 per cent of the adolescents, comprising those age between 12 and 17, having completed the vaccination as of yesterday.

A total of 310,661 doses of the vaccine were dispensed yesterday, with 190,599 doses as first dose and 148,062 doses to second dose recipients, bringing the number of doses dispensed under the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) to 43,367,580.

PICK was launched on Feb 24 this year to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, a total of 208 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported yesterday (Sept 29),  with 68 of them brought in dead (BID),  bringing the total death due to the virus in the country to 26,143.

On the total death reported yesterday, only 88  cases were the actual deaths reported for the day, while the rest were backlog cases.

Sources: BERNAMA

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(Video) Do It Right! Here’s How To Use Nasal Spray Correctly!

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Nasal sprays are liquid medications that are sprayed into the nostrils. They’re used to help reduce nasal congestion (stuffiness). Congestion is a common symptom of allergies or a cold.

While nasal congestion can be treated with an over-the-counter nasal spray, it is not as simple to use as it may appear. Most people thinking that the right way to use the nasal spray is to spray it directly up the middle point of the nose. That will only irritate the

So here’s how to correctly use the nasal spray

@dr.samhanRAMAI SALAH TEKNIK GUNA NASAL SPRAY #jombelajar #learnontiktok #tiktokguru #PDPR

♬ Acoustic Guitar Stroll – Dow Brain

1. Shake the bottle

2. Test the spray. Press a few times to see if the spray works properly.

3. The ‘X’ mark. This is important. If you’re using your right hand to spray, you should spray it in your left nose and if you’re using your left hand, spray it into your right nose.

4. Your aim is to spray at the Maxillary Sinus or the part which is beside your nose. To do that, tilt the spray towards your eye and then spray. Spraying in an upright position will cause the medication to flow to your throat. 

5. Also, don’t tilt your head upwards when spraying.

Sources: TikTok Dr Samhan, Health Essentials

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COVID-19 Vaccination: Inmates Behind Bars Grateful They Are Not Forgotten

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KUANTAN, Sept 29 — Although behind bars, inmates at the Penor Prison here are grateful that they were not forgotten when the government launched the National COVID-19 Immunisation (PICK) programme.

One of them, identified as Tan, 30, said he already knew about the COVID-19 pandemic when he was brought to the prison last February and had wondered if he would also receive the vaccine when PICK was introduced being a prison inmate.

“During a telephone conversation with my parents, they asked me about the vaccination in prison. The next time I get to talk to them, I’ll tell them that I’m already vaccinated…I’m sure they will be relieved,” he told Bernama.

Tan, from Kuala Lumpur, is serving a two-year prison sentence for violating a police surveillance order, was met by Bernama after receiving his second dose of the Sinovac vaccine at the prison today.

As for  Aizi, 29, from Felda Jengka, Maran, who is serving a five-year prison sentence since 2019 for a  drug offence, said he took up the vaccination in prison  because he was worried there would be no more free COVID-19 vaccination by the time he got his release.

“Although we are in prison, we are told on the importance and benefits of taking the vaccine. I know it is important for our own protection and have been waiting to be given the vaccine,” he said.

For Nanthan, 32, who is serving a six-year prison sentence for robbery since middle of last year, his concern was not being registered as a vaccine recipient on the MySejahtera app like other members of his family.

Penor Prison director Fayrouz Ahmad Zawawi said the prison had achieved the herd immunity with  more than 90 per cent of the 1,823 inmates, including foreigners, having been vaccinated.

He said of the total, 408 inmates were given the CanSino vaccine, while the others were given the Sinovac vaccine with the first dose given on Sept 6 and 7.

The vaccination was conducted by 25 health workers under the supervision and assistance of prison staff at a workshop that was turned into a Penor Prison vaccination centre (PPV).

“Those who were vaccinated were also given the COVID-19 vaccination cards, but are kept by the prison and handed over to them upon their release,” he said, adding that those who completed serving their time before getting the second dose could get the second dose outside the prison.

Fayrouz said the vaccination programme at the prison, as well as other measures made by the prison authorities, helped to reduce the spread of the epidemic.

He said new inmates sent to the prison are required to stay at a transit centre for 14 days for observation purposes.

After they are confirmed negative, the inmates are again quarantined for six days in jail before being transferred to their respective residential blocks, he said, adding that since last Aug 1, the cumulative number of those in the prison who were confirmed positive was 269 people.

He said inmates confirmed positive with COVID-19 were sent to the COVID-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC) in Bentong Prison.

“We also took the initiative to measure the oxygen level of inmates using the Pulse Oximeter three times a day and those with low readings, will be rushed to hospital,” he said.

Apart from that, he said the prison staff would also conduct sanitation process in all cells on a daily basis to ensure safety of the inmates.

Sources: BERNAMA

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