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The Role of Children in Building Community Support for the Covid Vaccine?

I attended a fascinating webinar last week on ‘Keeping Trust in Immunisation: Community perception of Vaccination in the time of COVID-19’. It was an online conversation hosted by the Gavi CSO Constituency in partnership with ACTION, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, RESULTS UK & Save the Children.

There are enormous challenges facing immunisation and the COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened the focus on immunisation systems. With global attention on the issue of securing a COVID-19 vaccine, its important to highlight the chronic challenges that prevent the equitable distribution of vaccines.

This webinar was an opportunity for some in-depth analysis on vaccine confidence and reflections on current measures taken to maintain trust in immunisation services. With a targeted focus on community perception of vaccination, the discussion featured first-hand testimonies and experiences of community health workers. As we explored what it takes to build public support for vaccines the role of children and youth came to the fore and then a main topic for discussion.

I have since looked again at our immunisation messages and activities and I am currently looking into how these need to be revised (or repurposed) and which of our methodologies are best suited to assist as part of a Community Engagement strategy. We are in touch with a few organisations looking into this and we’d be happy to hear from anyone else who’d like to join the collaboration.

After the webinar I was keen to understand some of the main players in building public support for the Covid vaccine and I came across CONVINCE part of the ‘vaccine confidence group’ based out of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I found this article and this extract from it is really helpful…

“[W]e should help health leaders to prepare now with education and dialogue to set appropriate expectations for when a coronavirus vaccine may be available. We need to build vaccine literacy with effective communication and community engagement for acceptance country by country, village by village, taking into account community-specific issues, concerns or misconceptions and working with local religious and civil leaders and influencers.

We also need to help people become more fluent about vaccinations: Are they safe? Will they protect me and my family? Do I need to be vaccinated to be able to work? Will everyone be able to get it? Will vaccination sterilise me or my kids?

And we must be realistic that none of this information and advocacy will truly convince people to accept COVID-19 vaccination, or any other, in the absence of genuine societal trust. Without mutual trust, we may not be able to rebuild economies and return to anything approaching “normal” life.

It would be tragic if we developed, made and distributed safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and people refused to take them, when health infrastructure and equipment levels cannot stem the pandemic.”

We know through the work we are doing to apply our ‘participatory inquiry process’ – that children and young people have a lot of ideas when it comes to identifying interventions that will work for them and their families.

Do contact us to find out more or to continue this discussion…

Further Reading and Resources