The pandemic has exposed how important it is for the right to access to information to be respected and for accurate reliable information to be freely available for decision-making by both governments and citizens: A win-win situation.

A Jordanian pharmacist, Maisa, initially was hesitant about the vaccination and tried to convince others not to get it. She believed that the vaccine was still in the trial phase and doubted its efficacy, among other misinformation spread about the vaccine.

Maisa only changed her mind after participating in the awareness sessions provided in partnership with UN in one of the maternity health centres in Tafileh Governorate in Jordan where she lives. There, she had the chance to ask and receive scientific information about the vaccine.

She not only received the vaccine, but joined the sessions as a facilitator and managed to convince others to take the vaccine.

Maisa was one of the participants in a bigger initiative, in which the United Nations supports the national COVID-19 response to engage vulnerable communities on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. The initiative is in line with the “Verified” campaign of the UN Secretary General to combat misinformation and boost the number of vaccinated people.

A man in Jordan wears a mask. United Nations photo: UN Jordan/ Mohammad Abu Ghoush

As quick as misinformation spreads, spreading facts and promoting access to information should happen just as fast.

Misleading or false information undermines social trust and jeopardises access to reliable information. The pandemic has witnessed its fair share, particularly since the global onset of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Since the announcement of the vaccine’s availability in Jordan, most people’s discussions have hovered around its safety and efficacy. With it has come misinformation and disinformation, which have flooded social media, mobile messaging applications, in-person discussions and a host of other public spheres. These rumours have hindered vaccination efforts everywhere.

Freedom of opinion and expression, which includes the right to access to information, is a human right. It is essential to enable people to be part of the solutions, to advocate for their right to education, healthcare, gender equality and justice and to realise sustainable development in which no one is left behind.