The long-term solution to the Covid-19 pandemic, hopefully, will be a globally implemented, safe vaccination program that has broad clinical and socioeconomic benefits (DeRoo, et al 2020). Furthermore, dozens of vaccines have been developed and distributed across the globe for the jabs to be taken accordingly. Some scenarios predict the earliest, widespread availability of a Covid-19 vaccine to be in 2021 and the doses have already started in 2021 as predicted earlier. During the launches of the vaccines before the mass vaccination programmes, it indicated demonstrable careful planning to ensure the readiness of both the general public and the health communities for a Covid-19 vaccine full commencement. This call for information-seeking behavior as there are contradictions regarding the vaccine, as some people in the state are of the view that if one takes the vaccine, one will run mad, others said it is a strategy by the government to reduce the number of population in the state, to mention a few. All these divided opinions on the vaccine has created an important knowledge vacuum in the existing literature, which the current study is conceived.
Statista (2020) carried out a comparative study to determine the areas people need more information on Covid-19. The study covers Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The majority of the respondents indicated they require more information on testing for Covid-19 and Corona, policies for travel, and the vaccine. Clarke et al., (2016) studied health information needs, sources, and barriers of primary care patients. The findings of the study revealed that the most common information needs were information on an illness or medical condition, nutrition, alternative medicines, and new experimental treatment.
Cochrane (2020) remarks that knowing health information sources to trust and which to ignore can be difficult to ascertain a lot of information on many platforms, especially the ones confusing. Sokey and Adisah-Atta (2017) studied the challenges confronting rural dwellers in accessing health information in Shai Osudoku District, Ghana. The findings of the study revealed that the majority of the respondents indicated their preferred health information was family members, followed by healthcare providers, the internet and friends. Simmons et al., (2015) evaluated sources of health information among rural women in Western Kentucky. The findings of the study revealed that the majority of the respondents preferred interpersonal sources for both general (68.1%) and mental health (69.4%) information.
Agyemang-Duah et al., (2020) studied the dynamics of health information-seeking behavior among the elderly with very low incomes in Ghana. The findings of the study revealed inadequate knowledge about the benefits of seeking health information, perceived poor attitude of health workers or healthcare providers, and communication or language problems. Adeyoyin and Oyewusi (2015) studied the needs and utilisation of health information among young adults in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. The findings revealed that the majority of the respondents indicated nutrition as their major health information need, followed by diagnosed medical conditions, unwanted pregnancy avoidance, and HIV/AIDS infection. UNICEF (2020) observed that the elderly have other underlining illnesses; hence they require frequent health information and assistance from their younger to run errands and book appointments with a physician to ensure they get all the help they desire in this Covid-19 pandemic era.
Vanderslott (2020) raised the issue of fake news about the Covid-19 vaccine as they can be disseminated by trusted friends, family members, and physicians making it difficult for people to identify, which sources are real and trusted. Murugathas et al. (2020) studied the health information needs and seeking behavior of pregnant women attending antenatal at Jaffna Teaching Hospital. The study found that the non-availability of relevant information and language barriers was identified as the challenges that militate against the use of health information by pregnant women. Ojo (2006) affirmed that a high level of illiteracy, absence of basic infrastructure, and poverty was identified as the militating factors in adopting new media for accessing and using health information.
Dardas, et al (2020) discover that adolescents are more likely to engage in risky health practices related to Covid-19. The reason given is that adolescents’ compliance with infection control measures is a key factor to mitigate the spread of the disease. The study explores the knowledge, attitudes, and practices toward Covid-19 and the correlations among Jordanian adolescents. Through an online cross-sectional survey, a total of 1,054 Jordanian adolescents aged 12–18 completed and returned the survey. Generally, Jordanian adolescents showed a good base of knowledge regarding Covid-19 (regardless of their demographic characteristics) and tended to hold positive attitudes toward the country’s curfew and other protective measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Similarly, that study found that the majority of adolescents reported that television and social media were their main source of information about Covid-19 prevention protocol messages, while few of them were reported to be receiving such information from their schools. The majority reported practicing effective health-protective behaviors to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which was significantly predicted by their knowledge and attitudes toward these measures. However, there was a relatively small, yet clinically significant, percentage of adolescents who showed poor knowledge of Covid-19, they had negative attitudes toward protective measures, and reported being engaged in risky practices related to infection spread.
Gao et al (2020) in the study used a total of 2136 respondents from 30 provinces or municipalities in China, where they found that the accurate response rate for the knowledge section ranged from 72.7 to 99.5%, and the average was 91.2%. Regarding the attitude section, the percentage of positive attitudes (“strongly agree” and “agree”) ranged from 94.7 to 99.7%, and the average value was 98.0%. The good practices (“always” and “often”) results ranged from 76.1 to 99.5%, and the average value was 96.8%.
Nwagwu and Ajama (2011) studied women’s health information needs and sources in a rural oil community in South-Western Nigeria. The findings revealed that respondents rely on herb hawkers, family members or friends, traditional healers, drug sellers, radio, or television, among others. Momodu (2002) examines the health information needs and seeking behavior of rural Nigerian communities. The findings revealed that rural dwellers use health information to handle the incidence of epidemic outbreaks, identify good treatment options, to explore health facilities. Medlock et al., (2015) studied the health information-seeking behavior of seniors who use the internet. The findings revealed that the internet was used most often for information about symptoms, prognosis, and treatment options. Oluwatuyi (2010) studied the health-seeking behavior of rural dwellers in Ekiti State, Nigeria. The study revealed that the rural dwellers seek health facilities to cater mainly to the ailments affecting their health. The above-reviewed studies have direct bearing on the subject matter as most of the studies also tried to examine the issue of information-seeking behavior on Covid-19 pandemic.
This study is anchored on the Health Belief Model. The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented health communications challenge in the field of communication and media studies. Healthcare providers should reinforce behaviors that limit the spread of the pandemic, including social distancing and remaining in the home whenever possible. Formal communications toolkits may not be prepared in a timely fashion. Community pharmacists can reinforce mitigation behaviors by applying the health belief model (HBM). This part of the study presents an overview of the HBM and how it can be applicable in underpinning it within the context of the study area to be a guide to communication and media studies researchers (Sheppard & Thomas, 2021).
The field of Health Communication has many starting points in its development and one very fundamental, essential starting point entrenched in the communication discipline’s emulation of other social sciences, such as psychology and sociology, which were actively studying the health care system. The communication discipline has a long-standing history of adopting theories and methods from these social sciences, and the move towards adopting the health care context as a topic of study was a natural disciplinary trend.
It has been reported that for a very long period spanning up to seven decades, the Health Belief Model (HBM) has been one of the most widely used conceptual as well as the theoretical framework of the study in health communication and other behavioral research. In the studies relating to the HBM, scholars like Champion and Skinner (2008) posit that the model has been in use since the 1950s both to explain change and maintenance of health-related behaviors and as a guiding conceptual and theoretical framework for the study of health behavior interventions. In the same vein, for the past twenty years, the HBM has been widely expanded, compared to other theoretical frameworks of the study, and it has been used to support interventions to change health behavior among the general public.
Champion and Skinner (2008) review fundamental components of the HBM and examine other psychosocial constructs that further explain relationships within the model. They began with the origins of the HBM and the relationship of the HBM to psychosocial theories. They also discuss issues related to the measurement of HBM constructs. They also cited examples of applications of the HBM in cases such as breast cancer screening and AIDS-prevention behaviors. The applications of the model describe how the HBM has been used to explain these behaviors and also as a basis for interventions. With the current world pandemic of coronavirus, the HBM can suitably be used and applied in the cases of contextualizing public behavior as regard to their information-seeking behavior about media messages towards the vaccine. This will greatly help in evaluating the implications of the public information-seeking behavior toward the Covid-19 vaccine.