Covid-19 Awareness, Online Discourse, and Vaccine Distribution in Melanesia
Delivering authentic and accurate information to citizens about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines is central to the success of national vaccination initiatives. However, vaccine-related online mis- and disinformation in the Pacific is complicating this effort and contributing to confusion and uncertainty around vaccines, the nature of the pandemic, and the virus itself. Reducing “information disorder” in the region is a critical step in ensuring that governments can move beyond the social and economic disruption created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This report presents overall findings and analysis of perception survey data on Covid-19 awareness and information consumption in three countries within the subregion of Melanesia: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu. To contextualize these findings, the report also examines trends and patterns of discourse on Covid-19 within large social media communities in each country. This research project, which was led by The Asia Foundation in collaboration with researchers specializing in Melanesian media ecosystems and measurement of public perceptions, illustrates deepening relationships between online discourse in these countries’ growing digital ecosystems and the broader public’s perceptions of the pandemic. It also contains important implications for Covid-19 vaccine rollout and preparedness for future “infodemics.”