COVID-19 vaccines

Sharing your COVID-19 jab story can boost vaccine confidence, survey shows

Sofia Tomacruz
Sharing your COVID-19 jab story can boost vaccine confidence, survey shows

VACCINE DRIVE. Nurses administer the Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 jab to residents during the local government's vaccination program at the Makati Medical Center on May 12, 2021.

Rappler

A recent Pulse Asia survey finds one top factor that could convince people unwilling or unsure about getting vaccinated is seeing their own friends and family who are vaccinated remaining safe

What is one factor that could convince people who are unsure or disinclined to get vaccinated signing up for a COVID-19 shot? Based on a recent survey by Pulse Asia, seeing friends and family getting vaccinated is among the top drivers of vaccine confidence in the Philippines. 

In a recent survey by Pulse Asia, conducted from June 7 to 16, the greatest number of people both hesitant and unwilling to get vaccinated said they would change their minds about vaccination “when they see that their relatives, friends, and/or acquaintances who have gotten a vaccine are safe.” 

The finding resonated for the 36% of respondents unwilling to get vaccinated, 35% of whom said they would be convinced of vaccinations for this reason. The same was true for a bigger portion of the 16% undecided about vaccinations, 44% of whom said they would would change their mind if vaccinated friends and family were still safe after getting their shot. 

If not the example of friends and family, another factor that could convince those not willing to get vaccinated to reconsider their position would be the advice of personal doctors or health advisers saying the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. The reason was the second top factor that could ease hesitancy among those not willing and unsure about getting vaccinated, Pulse Asia said.

The survey was done using face-to-face interviews with 2,400 Filipinos aged 18 years old and above. The survey has a 95% confidence level with a ±2% margin of error. 

It was likewise conducted three months into the government’s vaccine drive and just as the country started the inoculation of economic frontliners or the A4 priority group which comprised the largest segment of the Philippines’ priority groups for vaccination. 

Sharing your COVID-19 jab story can boost vaccine confidence, survey shows
Why this matters

Pulse Asia’s findings are among the first to explore factors that could get people unwilling to or ambivalent about vaccination on their way to vaccination centers – a crucial insight if the Philippines is going to actively stem vaccine hesitancy. 

The nationwide public survey had already noted an increase in willingness to get vaccinated with 4 out of 10 adult Filipinos saying they would get a COVID-19 shot. While the figure is a marked increase from the nearly 2 out of 10 adult Filipinos who expressed willingness in February 2021, it is still not high enough for health officials to reach the goal of attaining herd immunity against the virus.

Scientists have said countries and areas would need to ensure at least 70% of their populations vaccinated to attain herd immunity. 

The survey’s findings offer ways to address vaccine hesitancy and come at a crucial time as the Philippines seeks to ramp up vaccinations to keep the spread of more contagious variants at bay. 

Aside from this, findings also provide insights on how the government and heath professionals can address one of the top reasons adult Filipinos are still unwilling or undecided about getting vaccinated against COVID-19: concern about vaccine safety. 

Pulse Asia screenshot

Pulse Asia found safety concerns are still the predominant factor arguing against vaccination across all geographic areas and socio-economic classes in the Philippines. Similar reasons had been cited by other public surveys, where fear of side effects had been pointed to as a top reason why adult Filipinos were still unwilling to get vaccinated. 

What else might help?

Other factors that can aid in increasing vaccine confidence among those still undecided and unwilling to get vaccinated include the following: 

  • When a government official or medical professional goes to their place to assure them about vaccine safety (13% for the 36% not inclined to get vaccinated, 18% for the 16% unsure about getting vaccinated) 
  • When government officials get vaccinated (8% for the 36% not inclined to get vaccinated, 14% for the 16% unsure about getting vaccinated) 
  • When vaccination is required for work (7% for the 36% not inclined to get vaccinated, 3% for the 16% unsure about getting vaccinated) 
  • When vaccines are given for free (1% for the 36% not inclined to get vaccinated, 1% for the 16% unsure about getting vaccinated) 
Pulse Asia screenshot

Overall, Pulse Asia’s findings suggest that vaccinated individuals can play a big role in increasing vaccine confidence among Filipinos who are still not willing to vaccinated, and that one way to address hesitancy is by communicating the effectiveness of vaccines in personal circles or to friends and family. 

Meanwhile, pushing for compliance or making vaccines mandatory for people to get vaccinated may be helpful for some unwilling to get vaccinated, but it is among the least convincing factors that could boost vaccination turnout the country. (READ: Duterte threatens to arrest people who refuse getting vaccinated) – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.