New Delhi: The global acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines increased from 75.2 per cent in 2021 to 79.1 per cent in 2022, according to a survey in 23 countries (including India) that represent more than 60 per cent of the world’s population. The willingness of parents to vaccinate their children also rose slightly, from 67.6 per cent in 2021 to 69.5 per cent in 2022.
However, vaccine acceptance decreased in eight countries and almost one in eight vaccinated respondents, particularly younger men and women, were hesitant about receiving a booster dose, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Worryingly, almost one in eight (12.1 per cent) vaccinated respondents were hesitant about booster doses. This hesitancy was higher among the younger age groups (18-29).
Led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the The City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, the study underlines a wide variability among countries and the need for tailored communication strategies in addressing vaccine hesitancy.
“The pandemic is not over, and authorities must urgently address vaccine hesitancy and resistance as part of their COVID-19 prevention and mitigation strategy,” says Jeffrey V Lazarus, Head of the Health Systems Research Group, ISGlobal.
The 23 highly populated countries that were hit hard by the pandemic part of the study were Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the US.
The data reported here correspond to the third survey conducted between June and July 2022. Of the 23,000 respondents, 79.1 per cent were willing to accept vaccination. The finding represented an increase of 5.2 per cent from June 2021.
However, eight countries observed increased hesitancy (from 1 per cent in the UK to 21.1 per cent in South Africa). “We must remain vigilant in tracking these data, containing COVID-19 variants and addressing hesitancy, which may challenge future routine COVID-19 immunisation programmes,” said Ayman El-Mohandes, senior author.
The survey also provides new information on COVID-19 treatments received. Globally, ivermectin was taken with the same frequency as other approved medications, even though the WHO and other agencies do not recommend its use to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Also, almost four per cent respondents reported paying less attention to new COVID-19 information than before and having less support for vaccine mandates. “Our results show that public health strategies to enhance booster coverage will need to be more sophisticated and adaptable for each setting and target population,” says Lazarus.