Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP)

Context: The State of the World’s Children 2023 report by the UNICEF uses the Vaccine Confidence Index developed by Vaccine Confidence Project to reveal that public perception of importance of vaccines for children has declined since the COVID-19 pandemic in 52 out of 55 countries studied. Only three countries have shown an increase in vaccine confidence, China, India & Mexico.

About Vaccine Confidence Project

  • Vaccine Confidence Project was established in 2010 at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to better understand growing vaccine scepticism around the world.
  • Vaccine Confidence Index: To better understand and quantify, vaccine scepticism and hesitancy at the global level, VCP launched the Vaccine Confidence Index. 

Benefits of Vaccination

Children are less prone to illness.

  • Improved learning outcomes: Less illness means reduced absence from school and improved learning outcomes.
  • Women empowerment: Less illness means that parents particularly mothers need to take less time off work to care for sick children.
  • Saves money on caring for sick: Families of vaccinated children feel less emotional pain and are less likely to spend on costs of caring for sick children.
  • Herd immunity: Vaccinating children supports the health of the wider community by promoting herd immunity and helping to limit the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Disproportionate gains from vaccination: Every dollar spent on vaccination delivers a return on investment of US$26.

Reasons For Decline Of Vaccination During Covid-19 Pandemic

  • Huge demand on health system: Covid-19 pandemic placed huge demand on an already underinvested public healthcare system. The entire focus was on the pandemic and reduced focus on other aspects of public health.
  • Shortage of health workers for vaccination: Most public health workers were diverted towards pandemic relief and management.
  • Vaccination is contact intensive: Covid-19 pandemic demanded people not to come into physical contact and demanded stay at home policies in this scenario, vaccination was not possible.

Ways To Build Vaccine Confidence & Reduce Vaccine Hesitancy

  • People centred vaccination: Vaccination interventions informed, designed and implemented by local communities can be powerful. Traditional and religious leaders should be also integrated into vaccination efforts.
  • Social data & Social Listening: Social listening refers to mechanisms by which policymakers can understand people’s attitudes in real time by mechanisms such as regular surveys about attitudes, intentions and behaviours around vaccines.
  • Pro-vaccine education & public messaging: Educational interventions gaps with reliable, resonant, relevant information can check rumours, fill information gaps, parental concerns about safety and lack of awareness about benefits of vaccination.
  • Gender lens in vaccination: Understanding how gender impacts vaccine uptake can help with the design of more effective programmes, as well as education and information campaigns.

Other Steps To Improve Vaccination

  • Support frontline health workers: Community health workers at the frontline of delivering vaccinations face low pay, informal employment, lack career opportunities etc. They need to be empowered with full time jobs with good pays and working conditions.
  • Integrate vaccination with primary health care: Vaccination efforts should be focused around primary health care. For this the strengthening of primary health care network is also essential.
  • Financial commitments towards vaccination: Government is the largest contributor to immunisation. There is a need to keep vaccination as a priority allocation in annual budgets of both central and state governments.
  • New Vaccines: COVID-19 pandemic has helped accelerate vaccine development and the lessons learnt can result in faster vaccine development & approvals. Several new vaccines like malaria vaccine etc are emerging and need to be mainstreamed.
  • Innovations in vaccine supply chains: Small temperature-sensitive indicators on vaccine vials allow health workers to monitor vaccines for heat exposure. Drones are being successfully used to deliver health commodities in some African countries.
  • Digital technologies: Electronic immunization registries can ensure the right child receives the right vaccination at the right time. 

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