On February 13 and 14, 2022, in Budapest Hotel, Sofia, the National Network of Health Mediators Association held a training session for the project "Information campaign for informing and convincing in the benefits of the vaccines against Covid-19 for the most vulnerable groups in Roma neighbourhoods in Varna”. The project is funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bulgaria and is a continuation of the Vaccination campaign against Covid-19, implemented by health mediators in the Roma neighbourhoods of Varna in 2021. With the efforts of health mediators and all relevant authorities over 500 people were vaccinated and information for the benefits of vaccines has reached more than 1,500 people. Special promotional materials, messages and posters were made for the campaign. The lack of campaigns on the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccines, the spread of fake news, contradictory messages and information, ranked Bulgaria last in the EU in terms of Covid-19 vaccinations.
The Embassy of the Netherlands in Bulgaria has been our partner for years. The NNHM received timely support in the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic and provided protective equipment and information materials for the health mediators.
The campaigns for persuading in the benefits of the vaccines against Covid-19 allowed us to test specially designed promotional materials and messages in five Roma neighbourhoods in Varna and to pilot effective approaches for convincing vulnerable communities of the benefits of vaccines. With the implementation of the campaign in Varna, we gathered useful experience in the fight against negative attitudes towards the Covid-19 vaccines, fake news related to Covid-19, and we achieved good results. Based on the gained experience, the project will continue in new municipalities: Septemvri; Bratsigovo; Lom; Cherven Bryag; Nikola Kozlevo; Pavel Bania; Plovdiv.
Health mediators from the new locations of the project also took an active part in the training session for the exchange of experience and information between health mediators and experts from the NNHM. Ivaylo Tarnev, PhD, presented current information about the Covid-19 vaccines and their benefits, post-Covid-19 symptoms and new medications for treatment. Tsveta Petkova, the project coordinator, talked about the myths and fears related to the Covid-19 vaccines. The health mediator from Varna, Zheman Hassan, presented the experience of his colleagues in Varna. Health mediators shared the doubts and frequently asked questions of their clients who are hesitant or afraid to get vaccinated. Messages of information materials, good practices and the creation of like-minded circles among local institutions, active groups of volunteers, pastors and community leaders were also discussed.
Good luck to the health mediators in conducting the Vaccination campaign against Covid-19!