|Title||Tackling vaccine hesitancy|
|Introduction||Delays in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite the availability of vaccination services has become one of the key bottlenecks to increasing uptake of COVID 19 vaccination in many countries. Some of the factors that are responsible for vaccine hesitancy include low perception of the benefits of vaccination, lack of confidence and trust in the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines and the reliability of the vaccinators and convenience- time, place and quality of the vaccine. These factors emanate from contextual considerations including the media profiling of vaccines, opinion leaders, personal experiences or entry of new vaccines in the market. In Accra, vaccine hesitancy was fueled by rumors and misinformation and the long queues at the vaccination centers.|
|Theme||Risk communication and infodemics|
|Date||22nd July, 2021|
- In order to counter hesitancy, analysis of the local situation in terms of the prevailing misinformation and rumors and concerns was undertaken to inform the response strategy. This was followed with the identification of key opinion leaders and development of appropriate education materials.Peer educators were recruited, trained and equipped with the skills to counter the misinformation and debunk the myths surrounding COVID 19 vaccines. The support of recognized bodies such as religious groups and professional bodies were also enlisted. Vaccine hesitancy among health workers was addressed through active education on the vaccines, with emphasis on the management of side effects, providing vaccination schedules that had minimal interruption to service delivery and providing a responsive AEFI management system to boost their confidence.
- Together, these efforts have proved effective in increasing uptake of vaccination among target populations.
- Targeting the messaging is key to addressing vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine related concerns are contextual and general messaging is not appropriate for reaching out to all target populations.
Vaccine hesitancy is dynamic and constantly evolving. Countries should constantly undertake situation analysis to understand the drivers and develop context specific solutions to address it.