Corona vaccines in Arab society in Israel: Why is the information campaign lagging?

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Mohammad Khatib1,2

The Israeli Ministry of Health and the health system in general have attempted many forms of communication with the Israeli Arab public in an effort to encourage the Arab population to be willing to take the vaccine. Yet, two months after the beginning of the Covid-19 vaccine campaign in Israel, about 450,000 young people, aged 16-50 are still not vaccinated; 30% of Israeli Arabs have been vaccinated as compared to 46% of the overall population.

Civil society organizations and other Arab institutions need to be involved but the Ministry of Health does not see these critical institutions as potential partners in this all-out effort for vaccine acceptance.

The Arab population is a heterogeneous group. We need a different communication strategy for each age, religion or regional group. Many public figures (e.g., social, religious and cultural leaders) could take part in this campaign. For example, in order to reach young people, we need to speak their language and to contact them through other young people who have been infected with the virus, experienced the disease and recovered, and other young people who have been vaccinated. It is important to reach them where they are: working, studying or spending their free time.

Recently, there have been proposals to give the names of non-vaccinated people to the local authorities in order to reach them and encouraging them to get the vaccine. In my opinion, giving the names to the authorities will cause a backlash, especially those who are not ideologically opposed to the vaccine. Giving names to authorities is unethical, an invasion of privacy and represents a shaming process. Remember: Arabic public trust in the governmental systems is already low or non-existent. Such action will only increase distrust. There is a need for more health education, correct and reliable information, cooperation, transparency and trust through a direct relationship with the residents.

1 Zefat Academic College

2 The Galilee Society – “Rikaz” The Center for Social Research