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Survey: Rapid Assessment of Behavioural Drivers and Barriers to COVID-19 and Routine Under 5 Vaccine  uptake within Faith communities.

The Survey was a collaborative effort of UNICEF’s Social and Behaviour Change Section, Religions for Peace and Joint Learning Initiative as part of the Faith and Positive Change for Children, Families and Communities Initiative (FPCC). 

See summary report here:

See full report here

According to mappings of vaccine hesitancy for routine immunization over the past decade, (Dube et al (2014)) and WHO/UNICEF Joint Immunization Reporting (2015-2017), religious factors have been the third most frequently cited reason for vaccine hesitancy globally. More recent studies specific to COVID-19 vaccine (eg. in Pakistan and Bangladesh 2021) have demonstrated that conceptions, endorsement and actions by religious leaders strongly determine their attitude towards the vaccine and decision to vaccinate.

The purpose of the survey was to design, implement, analyze and report on a multi-country mobile phone survey that rapidly assessed knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and practices and helped in identifying specific behavioural drivers and barriers to vaccine uptake. The primary aim was to inform the design of more nuanced, responsive and effective faith-centered vaccine demand and promotion strategies. A secondary aim was to strengthen the capacities of country level FPCC initiatives to undertake similar research in the future to support evidence-based faith engagement strategies. 

Why work with religious leaders/faith communities?
Further, a new World Bank study has revealed that the combination of faith actors and health experts, working together to disseminate information and mobilise communities, is significantly more influential than either alone. Previous research on engaging faith communities in vaccination programs reveals that faith-based objections to vaccination often combine with and/or serve as a proxy for other concerns about safety, social norms, socio-cultural issues and economic factors. For example, there can be strict guidance in some contexts for Muslim women interacting with male health workers outside the home. 

Religion can also mask or intermingle with political issues: there may be anti-western sentiment in post-colonial settings; or personal or community resistance to state control, which is seen as an infringement of individual liberties. Addressing hesitancy requires a deep understanding of why certain communities may or may not be willing to seek out or accept vaccination. Equally, information on the state of the pandemic, vaccine supply and vaccine efficacy are constantly evolving, causing the nature of the misinformation and misconceptions to evolve in turn.


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