Restoring public trust in vaccines: The role of governments and healthcare providers



The WHO lists vaccine hesitancy as one of its [1] top 10 global health threats. Vaccination against critical diseases such as smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella is an established public health intervention that necessitates widespread involvement in order to achieve population immunity. In the face of a growing anti-science movement and the spreading of misinformation online, it is essential to endorse and encourage factual health messaging and advocate for vaccination by ensuring that everyone has access to scientifically sound and reliable information about the benefits of immunization and other critical public health messages.


Definition: [2] Vaccine Hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccine services. Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context-specific, varying across time, place, and vaccine products.

The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) convened a [3] working group in October 2014 in response to the rising incidence of vaccine scepticism and reluctance. The [4] three primary categories of influence driving vaccine hesitancy were proposed: confidence (belief in the vaccine's safety or efficacy), convenience (ease of access), and complacency (perception of the risk of disease and importance of immunization).


In the coming months, taking into account the 3 Cs framework, our research team will conduct a systematic review of a variety of factors that contribute to vaccine hesitancy, including social media misinformation, a lack of trust in institutions such as government, science, and the pharmaceutical industry, religious and political influences, and gaps and inequalities in health systems.


We aim to write a policy paper based on the findings of this systematic study that will provide a general overview of the causes of vaccine hesitancy and policy recommendations for addressing it, with a particular emphasis on governments and healthcare providers. The Policy paper will be global in scope, assessing worldwide data points to compare and contrast HICs and LMICs, and will not be disease- or vaccine-specific. However, a section will be dedicated to COVID-19 as a case study along with using current data using [5] Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) datasets and synthesis of lessons learned, exploring how we can apply findings from other vaccines to the issue of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.


Authors

  • Pallabi Deb, Program Manager at Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research & Prevention (SCHARP), Fred Hutch, Seattle

  • Dr Cassandra Akinde, Team Lead at The Neo Child Initiative (TNCI), Lagos, Nigeria.

  • Guia Sylianteng MD, SME Medical and Clinical Affairs, ClinChoice Inc. USA

  • William Lovell BSc (Hons), Medical Affairs Advisor, Pfizer Ltd., UK

  • Sakina Bano Mendha, BSc (Spec. Biology), Adv.Dip.(Biotechnology), Coder and Policy Scanner, OxCGRT, Canada


References:

[1] “Ten threats to global health in 2019” World Health Organization.

https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019


[2] Vaccine hesitancy: Definition, scope and determinants

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X15005009


[3] “Report of the SAGE working Group on Vaccine Hesitancy” World Health Organization (01 OCT 2014)

https://www.who.int/immunization/sage/meetings/2014/october/1_Report_WORKING_GROUP_vaccine_hesitancy_final.pdf


[4] “Vaccine hesitancy: Definition, scope and determinants” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X15005009


[5] “Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT)”

https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/research/research-projects/covid-19-government-response-tracker#data


This blog post was prepared by members of the Polygeia London Branch.