New study examines vaccine acceptance and reluctance to use in 10 low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa, and South America

New research published in Natural medicine shows that willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine was significantly higher in developing countries (80% of respondents) than in the United States (65%) and Russia (30%).

The study provides one of the first insights into vaccine acceptance and reluctance to use in a wide range of low and middle income countries (LMIC), includes over 20,000 survey participants, and brings together researchers from over 30 institutions, including the International Growth Center (IGC) . , Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), WZB Berlin Social Science Center, the Yale Institute for Global Health, the Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE) and the HSE University (Moscow, Russia).

Personal protection against COVID-19 was the main reason for vaccine acceptance among LMIC respondents (91%) and concerns about side effects (44%) was the most common reason for reluctance to get vaccinations. Health workers were considered the most trusted source of information about COVID-19 vaccines.

The study comes at a critical time when vaccine shipments are still slowly reaching the majority of the world’s population and COVID-19 cases are increasing in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The results suggest that prioritizing vaccine distribution to low- and middle-income countries should generate high returns in expanding global immunization coverage.

“With COVID-19 vaccine shipments flowing into developing countries, the next few months will be critical for governments and international organizations to focus on developing and implementing effective vaccine uptake programs,” said Niccoló Meriggi, country economist for IGC Sierra Leone and study coordinator. Author. “Governments can use this evidence to develop communication campaigns and systems to ensure those who want to get a vaccine actually pull through.”

The researchers, who conducted the surveys between June 2020 and January 2021, suggest that vaccine acceptance may vary with time and the information available to them. While the evidence of the safety and effectiveness of available COVID-19 vaccines has become clearer over the past six months, serious but rare side effects may have eroded public confidence.

Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health and co-author of the study, said, “What we have seen in Europe, the US and elsewhere suggests that hesitation about vaccines can make policy decisions difficult, and therefore quick and hampered widespread vaccine uptake. Governments in developing countries can now start engaging trusted individuals, such as health workers, to deliver accurate, balanced, and easily accessible vaccination messages about side effects. ”

“We observe in all countries that the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is generally somewhat lower than that of other vaccines, possibly because of their novelty. However, the consistently positive attitudes we see in low and middle income countries give us reason to be optimistic about uptake, ”said Alexandra Scacco, Senior Research Fellow at the WZB and co-author of the study. “We hope that the findings from our study can help develop strategies to expand the global COVID-19 vaccination.”

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