Vaccine hesitancy is not idiosyncratic to India alone but exists around the globe. There are many reasons for vaccine hesitancy such as concerns about efficacy, safety, distrust in organizations to a fear of side effects, and co-morbidities, including a few superstitious and religious reasons among others. These woes were undoubtedly exacerbated during the pandemic especially now in the second wave. Healthcare and government organization’s struggled with offering healthcare services in highly populated countries like India.
Sometimes the distrust and hesitancy towards vaccine adoption were born out of fear and at other times it was due to the perceived ambiguity surrounding the topic. Vaccine hesitancy is among the most significant communication and understanding challenges of 2021. However, the data is telling: High immunisation rates save lives. An article highlights that high immunization rates have led to lower fatalities among the elderly in Mumbai. In fact, a 44 percent drop in COVID fatality rate was observed in the elderly in April, despite the overall rapid increase in cases for Mumbai. According to the US CDC, the US is among the worst affected countries apart from India due to the COVID, data clearly depicts that vaccination reduces hospitalisation and deaths.
Source: Public Health England, The Economist
Apart from this, there is also evidence from the UK to show that vaccines are very effective in reducing symptoms and bringing down fatalities. Based on insights from the World Economic Forum, let’s take a closer look at how data can help build trust and dependability in vaccines, en masse.
Data to build trust
There is clear evidence from the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which depicts that not only is the pandemic a medical crisis but also a communications emergency. People’s feelings and thoughts when it comes to being inoculated are acknowledged by the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Increasing Vaccination Model: This also includes their perceptions about trust, safety, risk, and confidence among other facets. Vaccine hesitancy was highlighted as being among one of the top 10 threats to global health, as per WHO in 2019.
The World Economic Forum report focuses on five crucial data insights that can help people build trust in vaccines.
- The most widely used positive term associated with vaccination is ‘protection’ across different platforms. Organisations ought to offer more insights into a vaccine’s ability to protect them. Compared to the next most commonly used term ‘stop infection’, this term has appeared ten more times.
- It explains how labelling may polarise vaccination conversations and how expressing a moral responsibility might dissuade individuals from being vaccinated. While they may be characterised as anti-vaxxers, this implies that those who refuse to get vaccinations are selfish and have failed to fulfill their social obligations. As a result, making comments about persons who are reluctant or have poor confidence in being stabbed should be avoided.
- Messages that are relatable and simple can play a critical role in spreading positivity and building trust. For simple and honest messages and images strike a chord with regard to engagement and attention. Relatable examples that depict known public figures could help.
- Because most individuals have a fear or distrust of systems and authority, trust is a critical component of vaccination confidence. As a result, it’s critical to comprehend the causes behind vaccination apprehension and handle it with understanding. Labeling and criticising those who have a low level of vaccination confidence is ineffective. Conversations should aim to sympathise with and comprehend the public’s problems.
- Depending on the risk vs. benefit ratio, different perspectives may emerge. It was discovered that the prevalent discourse around the Covid-19 vaccine seldom differentiated between other immunizations. However, there were concerns raised about its safety and efficacy. There are fears that a certain vaccination may not function as expected. This is why, the focus should be on the vaccine’s most obvious effect, which is protection against deaths, in order to establish trust in it.
The World Economic Forum leveraged data visualization and artificial intelligence to evaluate data and test hypotheses. Data analysis of public opinion across various sources was conducted to garner these insights.
The road ahead
Because of the complicated scenario currently, vaccination literacy for Covid-19 vaccinations will need more comprehensive efforts than many other health literacy initiatives. Early clinical trials in the West and East suggest that first-generation Covid-19 vaccines will have a mid-range efficacy.