From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Dealing with vaccine hesitancy
The article deals with the issue of vaccine hesitancy and its consequences.
- The primary purpose of vaccination is to protect individuals against severe infection.
- Vaccination also protects populations by providing ‘herd immunity’, if done on a large scale.
- Globally, vaccinations against polio, small pox, meningitis and so on have seen huge success.
Need to address the vaccine hesitancy
- The results of a 2020 Gallup poll, conducted before the vaccine roll-out reveals that 18% of the Indian said that they won’t take the vaccine.
- But vaccine hesitancy has gone up in India since then, due in part to largely overblown reports of complications or even deaths.
- The consequences of vaccine hesitancy are disastrous.
- If herd immunity does not develop, disease outbreaks and pandemics will prevail.
- The slower the vaccination rate, the wider the spread of infection and the greater the chances of mutations and the emergence of new variants.
Factors driving vaccine hesitancy
- The influencing factors include a lack of awareness of the extent of benefits.
- Fears based on inaccurate information.
- Lack of access to vaccine.
- Disinformation, especially on social media.
- Other factors include civil liberty concepts, cost, cultural issues, and various layers of confidence deficit.
- To allay vaccine fears, our messaging needs to focus on simple facts.
- Before attempting to persuade people, we need to understand the basis of their fear, hesitancy and the anti-vax attitude.
- By challenging untruths, we inadvertently feed the perception that we are actively suppressing the “real” truth.
- The objective now should be to reach more people faster with a message that doesn’t just provide more science but includes guidance.
- Providing practical information through social media, alternatives to apps for those lacking easy access to vaccines, and taking the help of well-informed frontline workers will all help.
The possibility of a significant number of people not getting vaccinated thwarts our collective ability to reach the herd immunity threshold against Covid-19. Therefore the issue of vaccine hesitancy needs to be urgently addressed.