DMI

Location COVID-19

M-VACC

Objective

Uptake of the vaccine against COVID-19 has been slow in Madagascar due to misinformation, rumours, and a longstanding mistrust of vaccines amongst some in the Malagasy population. We received funding from the FCDO to write creative radio spots aimed at reducing vaccine hesitancy and encouraging Malagasy adults to get vaccinated. These spots are based on findings from a rapid formative research survey, designed to increase our understanding of the main barriers to COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

Locations

Madagascar

Themes

COVID-19 – combatting vaccination hesitancy and misinformation.

Formats

14 x 120 second radio spots translated in Malagasy.

Scope

This campaign was broadcast for five months from September 2021 – February 2022. Radio spots were renewed weekly and broadcast 10 times a day, every day.

Estimated Reach

18 million

Project at a glance

17
radio stations
21
regions

Our Approach

Science

Identifying barriers to vaccination

In September 2021, DMI conducted a small formative research exercise in the Atsinanana region to understand more about levels of COVID-19 vaccination, future intentions for COVID-19 vaccination, reasons for vaccine hesitancy, and awareness and levels of belief in rumours about the COVID-19 vaccine. The survey provided a snapshot of the types of concerns and beliefs circulating about COVID-19 in urban Madagascar, and the most common barriers to COVID-19 vaccination appeared to be concern about serious side effects and/or death as a result of the vaccine.

Our research team consequently produced a three-page message brief summarising the key barriers and facilitators to behaviour change. Each M-VACC radio spot ends with the following tagline: “Protect yourself and others by vaccinating yourself against COVID-19. The vaccine is secure and can save your life. Please follow your doctor’s guidance on the vaccination schedule.”

Stories

Engaging audio content

All M-VACC radio spots related a short story, using humour or drama, and attempted to counter myths and rumours about the COVID-19 vaccination’s potential side effects, while providing the most current and accurate information about the vaccine and the protection it offers.

One spot, The Bread Sellers, depicted two women over 60 selling breads in the market. One woman had her vaccine two days ago and is already back selling. This spot aimed to dispel rumours that the vaccine can cause severe allergic reactions or death.

Saturation

5 months, 14 spots, 1 language

Of the 17 contracted radio stations, three were national radio stations and 14 were local radio stations, allowing DMI to cover 21 of the 23 Malagasy regions (all but Betsiboka and Fitovinany). Fifteen of the contracted radio stations are radio stations which DMI Madagascar is partnering with as part of the existing FCDO-funded WISH2ACTION (W2A) project. These 15 radio stations were selected to broadcast the M-VACC radio spots based on their listenership, coverage, and reliability throughout the WISH project. This project was also an opportunity to partner with two new stations: Radio Feon’I Melaky (for Melaky region) and Radio AVEC (for Ihorombe region), which are the most popular radio stations in their respective regions.

Project impact

Our Impact

Analysing reactions to our radio spots

For this short-term project, the feedback research consisted of an exposure survey to measure reach, and eight focus groups designed to explore listener perceptions of the radio spots. The exposure survey demonstrated that significant proportions of respondents had heard our spots on the radio in both urban and rural areas (85% and 100%, respectively), and moreover that most respondents recognised 2-3 of the 3 spots that were played to them. This confirms that DMI is broadcasting on a popular range of radio stations and that radio reach is significant.

Our evaluation found that our spots are typically accepted and appreciated by the audiences, particularly where they reflect their urban/rural lived realities. Rural populations tend to be more vaccine confident, with the exception of young males, who are both vaccine hesitant and resistant to change. Older women in Analamanga had high vaccine hesitancy initially but showed some willingness to change after hearing DMI’s spots. Our research team concluded that Madagascar offers an interesting environment within which to further test theories on the effectiveness of directly addressing rumours versus only discussing positive effects of vaccination.

Partners & Funders

We would like to thank the FCDO mission in Madagascar for funding this campaign.