The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased awareness around vaccine hesitancy, which refers to people’s reluctance or refusal to accept vaccinations, despite their availability. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) described vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health, saying that the issue threatened to reverse the progress made in tackling preventable disease. The pandemic has also disrupted the delivery of lifesaving routine immunization services for children in many countries.
As part of World Immunization Week, we are sharing the results of our partnership with UNICEF to help combat vaccine hesitancy and increase routine immunization rates. Over the last nine months, we analyzed engagement with digital campaigns about vaccines in six countries that are home to over two billion people: Brazil, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ukraine. Through our Insights for Impact program, we worked with UNICEF to analyze public Facebook posts about vaccines in each country. We tested the effectiveness of different content, messages, and messengers in positively shifting knowledge and perceptions of vaccines and willingness to vaccinate. Across all these campaigns, we put vaccine information in front of more than 102 million people. We hope to release a detailed report at a later date, but our early findings suggest that health-care workers make powerful spokespeople and that authoritative, informative messaging is more effective than emotional messaging.
The most successful strategy varied from region to region. In India, a campaign featuring a doctor talking about his decision to vaccinate his own children led to a notable increase in the numbers of people who said that routine immunization was important. But in Kenya, a straightforward message and an infographic with the recommended vaccination schedule appeared to be most effective.