VacciNationSG campaign launched to raise awareness of Covid-19 vaccine, combat misinformation

The Covid-19 vaccination centre at Raffles City Convention Centre on Jan 28, 2021. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Singapore has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the national vaccination programme, as part of its push to get residents inoculated against Covid-19.

The VacciNationSG campaign will also address misconceptions and debunk misinformation, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran on Tuesday (March 2).

"The first line of defence in our fight against misinformation is a well-informed citizenry who receive accurate communications, from reliable sources, in a timely manner," Mr Iswaran noted during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Several MPs, including Mr Sitoh Yih Pin (Potong Pasir) and Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang), had observed that the Government's communications strategy has had to change in tandem with evolving needs.

"There is a need to ensure that all Singaporeans receive timely and accurate information that is relatable and capable of being understood by everyone with diverse needs," Mr Sitoh noted.

He asked how the Government considers factors such as age groups and literacy levels when tapping digital means of communication, and stressed that all communication channels - digital or otherwise - should remain two-way in order to garner ground feedback.

Responding, Mr Iswaran said the Government's "foremost communications challenge" in tackling the virus has been to ensure Singaporeans of all stripes can access trustworthy information.

By leveraging both traditional and digital platforms - including Telegram, Instagram and TikTok - it was able to broaden and deepen the reach of official communications, he said.

The portal is now available on 10 platforms, with its WhatsApp channel growing from 7,000 subscribers in January last year to 1.2 million subscribers today.

At the same time, the People's Association and Silver Generation Office carried out face-to-face outreach programmes for those who were not on social media.

"This was to ensure that all segments of our population were informed of key developments of the pandemic, why certain measures were necessary and how they could play their part to protect the health and safety of all Singaporeans," Mr Iswaran said.

He added that polls conducted by government feedback unit Reach indicated that more than eight in 10 people felt the Government provided enough information on Covid-19.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann also addressed the topic of communications in her speech on inclusive digital transformation.

Last year, Reach opened up new channels such as online dialogues to garner feedback from Singaporeans and connected with more than 59,000 people despite the pandemic, she said.

Content is being pushed out in the four official languages where possible, with key government messages in dialect woven into some television programmes.

Over the past year, her ministry also rolled out two new translation initiatives - one for public officers to generate machine translations in Tamil, and the other for volunteers to find the most suitable translations for various terms.

"The Government is committed to translating more government digital services where necessary, so that those who are more comfortable with the mother tongues can access government digital services with greater ease," she said.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.