Essay on To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate
Number of words: 2592
The rate at which COVID-19 has spread throughout the globe, and its adverse impacts is now a matter of record. Among other measures to address the devastating effects of the pandemic is the availability of vaccines. Several vaccines have been developed faster, but different groups of people have not accepted their deployment. There is a need to implement a proactive campaign strategy that would ensure people change their negative perceptions of the vaccines to become willing to take them. The evolving vaccine development process continues over the next few years, and more clinical trials will be completed. Additional vaccine strategies will be evaluated and more measures implemented to increase confidence in the vaccine. The strategies will aim to ensure global mass immunization to achieve herd immunity and end the pandemic. Stakeholders and policymakers need to focus on evidence-based community assessments and messages to enhance the uptake of the vaccine and break the dynamics of transmission.
Improved vaccination rates have minimized various preventable diseases in many nations (Malik et al., 2020). The vaccination system categorizes vaccines into routine vaccines required by the law and recommended but optional vaccines, although all the vaccines are voluntary. Low immunization rates, particularly of optional vaccines, have resulted in morbidity and mortality in some nations. The decision as to whether one gets a vaccine or not depends on several factors, including parents for children, lack of accurate information from inquiries, beliefs, and payments if required.
The world is amid a pandemic, and partners from different health institutions have responded to the pandemic. Some of their actions include tracking the pandemic, offering expert advice on critical interventions, disbursing essential medical supplies to those that require them, and, most importantly, being involved in the race to develop and deploy effective and safe vaccines (Malik et al., 2020). Vaccines are known to save millions of lives every year because they work by preparing the body’s natural defenses. They enhance the function of the immune system to identify and fight off dangerous microorganisms that could cause illnesses. When the body is exposed to the disease-causing microorganism after vaccination, the body’s defense system destroys them immediately, therefore, preventing the illness from occurring.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that vaccines save lives, many individuals reject the COVID-19 vaccine once the reason is self-interest. Many people claim that the vaccine is experimental ad the long-term effects of the vaccines are still unknown as the authorization was rushed. Even though the vaccines were offered emergency authorization, their capability to save the general public’s lives was not experimental. Still, it relied on evidence from years of already existent research on coronaviruses and mRNA vaccines. From the scientific view, the vaccine is indeed safe because authorization was granted after conclusive evidence highlighting that the vaccines are indeed safe.
Vaccines are a very critical tool to reduce the health and economic burden caused by the pandemic. The vaccination framework issued prioritizes individuals at a higher risk of acquiring the infection or even transmitting the disease and those with pre-existing conditions (Machingaidze & Wiysonge, 2021). The healthcare providers were among the first to receive the vaccine to ensure an adequate workforce that will provide care to infected patients. However, there has been vaccine hesitancy even among the healthcare providers and the general population, which requires that the potential concerns be addressed to ensure adequate uptake of the vaccine. It is specifically critical to ensure that medical providers are the first to accept the vaccine so that they may counsel those who are hesitant.
The significant concerns regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine include the fast rate at which the vaccine was developed. Vaccine hesitancy existed even before the pandemic and has been a growing concern now when the vaccine is there. Some of the personal drivers contributing to vaccine hesitancy include constraints, confidence, complacency, and calculation of risks. To promote the uptake of vaccines, it is essential first to understand why they are willing or not willing to do so.
The rationale for COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and hesitancy remains complex. The new variants of the virus also add to further complexity of the issue. More new vaccines are coming to the market. It would be critical to sustaining the delicate balance between communicating what is already known and accepting that uncertainties remain. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and researchers have tried to be as forthcoming as possible on new data regarding vaccines by making them readily available (Machingaidze & Wiysonge, 2021). Governments have also tried to be very transparent about their response programs to the pandemic, including vaccine availability and how critical decisions about handling the pandemic have been made. Adverse events about vaccinations are essential to monitoring the implementation of any vaccination programs. Still, in this day and age, adverse events that have been reported and document in intensive media coverage have discouraged people from getting the vaccine. Therefore, the media is tasked with reporting the events in a responsible yet transparent manner to offer unbiased and straightforward information to its audiences.
Vaccine distribution and equity issues have remained a considerable challenge for vaccination coverage and require prompt intervention (Malik et al., 2020). Lagging in the rolling out of the vaccine against COVID-19 contributes to vaccine hesitancy. Prioritizing vaccine distribution in certain areas should be justified not only on equity grounds but also on the anticipation of maximizing worldwide coverage at a faster rate. The globe shares a collective responsibility in fighting the pandemic, and therefore further research on the acceptance of the vaccine and hesitancy should be seen as a priority. The research should be conceptualized as information sharing and campaigns that eventually result in increased confidence in and uptake of the available COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccine hesitancy and acceptance may be affected by some individual and social determinants (Viswanath et al., 2021). There are about eight vaccines across the globe because the development and deployment of the vaccines have been done at such an incredible speed to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic. After introducing the vaccines, several candidates entered clinical trials in phases, and then the discussion turned to issues of implementation and acceptance of the vaccine by the general public. There have been calls for great proactive efforts to promote vaccination.
Public health success stories have involved a steep decline in preventable diseases through vaccination. However, a significant number of people refuse to take vaccines, and it all begins by refusing their children to get vaccinated by remaining opposed to childhood vaccines of every kind. The anti-vaccine sentiments have received much more attention than the actual number of vaccine refusers and appear disproportionate to its effect on the public discourse. The persistent questioning of the vaccine’s safety despite the evidence of its benefits has increased hesitancy to the vaccine. The questions about efficacy and safety are still there even if the same people still comply with the vaccine recommendations.
The risk perceptions are robustly linked with the desire to stay healthy and can be examined in two dimensions: susceptibility to threat and perceptions of the severity of the threat. Both are significantly related to the likelihood of receiving vaccines and allowing children to receive vaccines. Individuals who feel more susceptible to COVID-19 and its severe consequences are more willing to vaccinate themselves and those under their care (Viswanath et al., 2021). The primary source of the COVID-19 news also impacts the likelihood of vaccination. The news media are a significant source of information regarding health and more so in the context of the COVID-19 as the pathogen is still new.
Fragmentation of the mass audience results in many choices on the news. The platforms could have diverse editorial slats, which threaten the pandemic and its public health mitigation measures (Malik et al., 2020). The chances of getting the vaccine also depend on what serves as news for information about the pandemic. People who gain information from sources such as newspapers and journals are more likely to receive the vaccine than those who rely on online media news aggregators. On the other hand, social media has gained considerable attention as both a key to resourceful information and anti-vaccine news.
With both negative and positive influences about vaccine uptake on social media, there is no established evidence of significant effects of using social media as a significant source of vaccination news.
To some extent, vaccination against COVID-19 became a partisan issue, with some political figures having specific political persuasion regarding the threat of matter and mitigation measures by scientific experts. The split due to differences in partisans has been evident in the uptake of the vaccine, with individuals who identify themselves as republicans being less likely to receive the vaccine. Similarly, individuals with massive confidence in researchers and scientists are more likely to vaccinate themselves and those under their care. They believe that the scientists have their best interest at heart and that the vaccine is for the greater good.
Social determinants also affect the uptake of the vaccine. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted underserved groups of people from different racial and ethnic minority groups compared to other groups (Malik et al., 2020). Groups of people with more considerable proportions of minority and immigrant populations or low-income earners have limited healthcare information and services. On the other hand, those with higher education are more likely to receive the vaccine than those with lower schooling. Some ethnic and racial groups are less likely to agree to receive the vaccine, for instance, non-Hispanic blacks. Also, those that are not working are likely to receive the vaccine than those who are not working. The vaccination rates are higher among senior and retired individuals.
The devastation of the pandemic globally has affected almost all aspects of life and has restructured several social and public health policies, and has attained mixed reception. The globe has been eager to come up with effective treatment measures through commitment by the governments. There are several effective vaccines available, and the next urgent step is for people to receive the vaccine, and then herd immunity will be reached. Much attention and controversies associated with the vaccine have led to increasing people’s confidence in vaccines in general. The primary reasons for the lack of confidence include inquiries about its side effects, efficacy, safety, and schedule. These result in clusters of both vaccinated and unvaccinated groups leading to outbreaks of the disease.
Public health messages should ensure that the perceptions on undesirable risks and the efficacy and safety of the vaccines are well communicated to minimize vaccine hesitancy (Lucia et al., 2020). The messages would also counteract most of the anti-vaccine communications available of news media, precisely social media. The reluctance to receive the vaccine among different groups also needs to be studied as strategies on how to address them implemented. Additionally, inequalities in communication and access to information and services in the context of COVID-19 need to be addressed if more people are to receive the vaccine.
Research Design and Methods
To determine individuals’ perceptions as to whether they should receive the vaccines or not, a cross-sectional survey can be conducted using an online survey platform through a snowball sampling strategy. The participants of the study can be recruited from both major and minor cities in the country. The online collection of data is recommended because of the restricted environments and measures implemented to contain the pandemic. The research assistants would share the survey link on social media such as What’s App, Telegram, and Twitter channels or through emails to their primary contacts aged 18 and above (Al-Mohaithef & Padhi, 2020). After receiving the link to the survey, the participants will be advised to first go to the informed consent page, where they will give their permission, followed by the actual survey questions.
The questionnaire will be in English, consisting of different sections on socio-demographic information, perceptions, and knowledge towards COVID-19. Trust in the healthcare system and willingness to accept the available COVID-19 vaccines will also be assessed. The length of the questionnaire would be short so that it is easy to complete and follow. Several public health professionals will assess the questionnaire’s content and its clarity before pilot testing and the actual research activity. The questionnaires would be self-administered, and the participants will receive instructions to choose one option from the comprehensive list of responses, including Yes, No, or Not Sure (Al-Mohaithef & Padhi, 2020.
The study will follow all the research principles, and ethical approval shall be sought from the Ethics Committee. Consent will always be taken before participation in the study. In the data analysis step, descriptive statistics will be used, and summary tables will be generated for the different study variables. A cross-tabulation analysis will be carried out to now determine the distribution of the perceptions and intentions of the vaccine uptake. The socio-demographic characteristics will be analyzed using the chi-square tests and the logistic regression models utilized before the hypothesis to tabulate the odds ratio and the confidence levels. All the data will be analyzed using STATA 13.0.
The Implication of the Research
Vaccination is one of the most outstanding public health measures in this century. It is critical to determine the perceptions of individuals about the vaccine to put in efforts to disseminate accurate information and build trust and confidence in the measure. The acceptance of the vaccine varies within time, space, ethnicity, social class, and contextual human behavior (Lucia et al., 2020). The study participants have a good intention of accepting a hypothetical vaccine in accordance with the established standards. Further studies are recommended to corroborate the study’s findings so that the most effective public health interventions can be formulated and implemented. The strategies may include health education on targeted socio-demographic groups to enhance vaccine uptake behavior.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively affect people around the globe, which leads to global cases of death. The COVID-19 vaccines are still under development, but the biggest issue is now overcoming vaccine hesitancy. Misinformation about the virus has spread faster through media outlets. Healthcare officials and politicians must start planning effective policies and messaging strategies because the situation presents an imminent danger that needs prompt action. Health communication must reach people from all communities, especially those that are most vulnerable, to inform the population about the safety of the vaccines in an effort to prevent further deaths and infections. A vaccination program is only as effective as the high rates of coverage and acceptance. It is critical to understand different people’s perceptions and convince them of the benefits that outweigh the risks to accomplish this.
Al-Mohaithef, M., & Padhi, B. K. (2020). Determinants of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in Saudi Arabia: a web-based national survey. Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare, 13, 1657.
Lucia, V. C., Kelekar, A., & Afonso, N. M. (2020). COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among medical students. Journal of Public Health (Oxford, England).
Machingaidze, S., & Wiysonge, C. S. (2021). Understanding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Nature Medicine, 1-2.
Malik, A. A., McFadden, S. M., Elharake, J., & Omer, S. B. (2020). Determinants of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in the US. EClinicalMedicine, 26, 100495.
Viswanath, K., Bekalu, M., Dhawan, D., Pinnamaneni, R., Lang, J., & McLoud, R. (2021). Individual and social determinants of COVID-19 vaccine uptake. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1-10.