Study finds growing Covid vaccine acceptance across world

Study finds growing Covid vaccine acceptance across world

Covid-19 vaccine acceptance across the world increased by about 4 per cent between 2020 and 2021, according to a new study whose findings could help improve the coverage of future immunisation drives.

The research, published last week in the journal Nature Communications, studied Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy globally in June 2021 in over 23,000 individuals across 23 countries.

Researchers, including those from City University of New York in the US, found that more than three-quarters of respondents reported vaccine acceptance, up from 71.5 per cent the previous year.

The study was carried out amid a very unequal global Covid-19 vaccine availability and acceptance when scientists sought to understand the drivers of vaccine hesitancy and the characteristics of people not vaccinated.

In June 2021, the survey reported vaccine hesitancy most frequently in Russia (48.4 per cent), Nigeria (43 per cent), and Poland (40.7 per cent), and least often in China (2.4 per cent), the United Kingdom (18.8 per cent), and Canada (20.8 per cent).

Researchers found that vaccine safety and efficacy concerns as well as mistrust in the science behind vaccine development were the most consistent factors for hesitancy.

Personal experience with Covid-19, including sickness and loss of a family member, as well as demographic characteristics like education, income, and gender were other factors linked with vaccine hesitancy that varied by country, they say.

“In order to improve global vaccination rates, some countries may at present require people to present proof of vaccination to attend work, school, or indoor activities and events,” Jeffrey Lazarus, a co-author of the study from CUNY, said.

“Our results found strong support among participants for requirements targeting international travellers, while support was weakest among participants for requirements for schoolchildren,” Dr Lazarus said.

Recommendations by a doctor “or to a lesser extent by an employer” may have an impact on people’s views on vaccination in some countries, according to scientists.

For ongoing Covid-19 vaccination campaigns to succeed in improving coverage amid rising infection rates among some countries, substantial challenges remain, they say.

Targeting those reporting lower vaccine confidence with evidence-based information campaigns as well as expanding vaccine access in low- and middle-income countries are some of the main hurdles, researchers add.

Based on data presented from a European survey carried out by the Vaccine Confidence Project, scientists say the population group most exposed to social networks – mainly young people under 24 years of age with secondary or university studies and living in urban areas – are the most reluctant to be vaccinated.

Scientists add that messages calling for vaccination as a “moral obligation” are strongly rejected, as opposed to those that call for “protection”.

Observing that one of the most popular ways of conveying anti-vaccine messages has been humor, researchers called for disseminating the benefits of vaccines using this same tool, but without making fun of those who have mistaken beliefs.

“We still need accurate Covid-19 vaccine communication delivered by trusted sources to clearly explain vaccine safety and benefits to individuals, families, and society at large,” scientists wrote.