Developing a safe and efficacious vaccine against COVID-19 in record time has been a success, but swift and comprehensive rollout of the vaccine has been marred by a number of challenges.
On the demand side, one key challenge is vaccine hesitancy and resistance. Low confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, and low willingness to receive them, is a significant and growing risk to beating the pandemic globally.
An Africa CDC survey in 15 countries in 2021 found that although 79% of the population overall expressed their willingness to get vaccinated, vaccine hesitancy in individual countries ranged from 4% to 38%. In Pakistan, a national survey (Arshad et al., 2021) found that only 48.2% of respondents would agree to receive the vaccine upon its availability.
REPORTED WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT A NEW COVID-19 VACCINE ACROSS AFRICA
Overcoming this risk requires identifying and targeting the range of barriers and behavioral drivers that underlie vaccine hesitancy within different populations.
Uncovering the specific attitudes and mental models affecting vaccine hesitancy in different segments of the population requires integrating several research methods, including applied behavioral science, psychometric surveys and machine learning data-clustering algorithms. These can be used to identify and profile psycho-behavioral segments of people based on their differential barriers and drivers of vaccine hesitancy.
Given the varied and complex nature of the factors driving attitudes, beliefs and decisions, solutions must be specific to segments and localized to each country’s context, with a particular need to focus on vulnerable populations.
This work will benefit people who are at significant risk of remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19, with a focus on vulnerable populations. We will consider multiple dimensions of vulnerability. These will vary across geographies and will be finalized based on consultations with relevant stakeholders.
Initial beneficiaries include:
Populations whose COVID-19 vaccine perception, mental models, barriers and decision-making are not well understood because they are difficult to engage with, due to their remoteness and lack of access to media, the internet and smartphones
Populations at high risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, complications and fatality (e.g. persons with co-morbidities, the elderly, and the immune-compromised)
Populations whose vaccination status will have a disproportionate impact on others (e.g. frontline workers, healthcare providers, essential workers, sole breadwinners)
Populations that have been historically disadvantaged and marginalized (e.g. women, minorities, tribes and the urban poor).
A key objective of the study is to identify population segments that are more likely to be hesitant or averse towards vaccination, but who also have the potential to have their beliefs and behaviors moved towards vaccine confidence and uptake.
Identify the conscious and non-conscious drivers of hesitancy or aversion towards COVID-19 vaccines and barriers to vaccine confidence and uptake.
Assess the prevalence and clustering of the drivers and barriers in different segments of the population, profiling those segments for affection and actionable solution-targeting.
Strategize on effective levers of behavior change for each segment to boost confidence in and willingness to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Co-develop segment-targeted solution concepts with governments, implementing partners and local stakeholders supporting vaccine demand and uptake.
Build guidance materials and tools to support implementers and public health authorities to:
Understand and use segment profiles and their solutions strategies
Effectively adapt and deploy localized interventions to address the barriers to vaccine confidence and uptake in the dynamic COVID-19 context
Increased confidence in safety, efficacy and relevance of COVID-19 vaccines
Build trust in credible sources of information about vaccines and trust in vaccine providers. Develop an understanding of the benefits of vaccination as well as the risks involved for self and others to create an ownership of vaccine decisions. Cultivate social norms supportive of vaccine uptake.
Increased intent to receive COVID-19 vaccines
Support a willingness to receive COVID-19 vaccines upon availability in the overall population, particularly among marginalized, vulnerable and vaccine hesitant populations.
action to access vaccines
Address informational, logistical,
social and cost barriers to accessing vaccines and provide cues to drive action.