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Exploring behavioral strategies that can be used to increase public trust and demand for immunization, especially during COVID-19.
HOW YOU CAN USE THIS MATERIAL:
Get some ideas about how to build demand for immunization and counter vaccine hesitancy during COVID-19 by reviewing the experiences and strategies of other LNCT countries.
On May 21, 2020, LNCT and Common Thread held a webinar, “Designing Behavioral Strategies for Immunization in a Covid-19 Context”. The webinar explored how countries can increase public trust and demand for immunization to maintain immunization coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic by looking at key determinants of immunization behavior: trust, transparency, fear, and social norms. Cote D’Ivoire, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam shared their experiences and challenges using behavioral strategies to maintain immunization services during the pandemic so far.
- Key determinants of immunization behavior include trust, transparency, fear and social norms.
- Trust in government or other organizations will help build people’s compliance to policies they need to act upon. To build trust, governments and health services should demonstrate principles of competence, compassion, equity, and justice.
- Transparency, or open and honest communication from the government, helps people feel they are receiving honest and reliable information. Without it, people may fill in the information void with false information or rumors.
- Fear can motivate people to take certain precautions, but too much fear may lead to irrational decision–making or paralysis. To get fear right, politics have to be put aside for the sake of public health so as not to overplay or underplay the health threat.
- Social norms guide behavior as people make health decisions based on what they see other people doing and what they think others believe they should do.
- Vietnam acted quickly and effectively to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the beginning of the pandemic. Doing so built the public’s trust in the government’s ability to manage the pandemic, which Vietnam hopes to leverage as immunization services resume.
- Sri Lanka developed and launched a communication plan early, which included a hotline and regular briefings to provide the public with transparent and timely information.
- To combat COVID-related vaccine rumors, Cote d’Ivoire provided the public with transparent information about vaccines through government media addresses, information interviews, and radio and television broadcasts with trustworthy officials such as civil society partners, pediatricians and other experts.
- India established social norms around masks, handwashing, and lockdown by broadcasting images of the Prime Minister and other leaders complying with these norms. They also built on the public’s fear of COVID-19 and desire for a vaccine to encourage people to get vaccinated against other diseases.