African Perceptions on COVID-19 Vaccines: A Comprehensive Study 9 months ago

Between August and December 2020, ORB International conducted a survey of public opinion on COVID-19 and vaccine confidence in 15 countries with over 15,000 adults across Africa. The study was carried out on behalf of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in conjunction with the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Read the full report here.

The study investigated public knowledge and perceptions of both the COVID-19 pandemic itself and a potential COVID-19 vaccine among adults in Africa. ORB further explored knowledge gaps, cultural beliefs, and attitudes among Africans in order to help inform Africa CDC’s strategy to advocate for and deploy the incoming vaccine across the continent. This study is the first to examine COVID-19 vaccine confidence across Africa CDC’s five regions (Northern, Western, Central, Eastern, and Southern).


Findings


The 15-country study revealed a number of valuable insights. Willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine is reasonably high (relative to Europe and other regions of the world) at 79%, though the rate varies across the continent. Among those who say they will not take a COVID-19 vaccine, 1 in 5 (21%) cite a lack of trust, while another 1 in 5 (21%) say they doubt the safety of the vaccine. Women tend to need more reassurance when considering potential COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Different African countries identify different voices as credible and therefore suitable for dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine messaging. A public engagement campaign should involve a range of actors from the international (WHO) to the local (healthcare professionals and community leaders).


Disinformation undermines vaccine confidence. Nearly 1 in 2 respondents believe the pandemic was a planned event by a foreign actor, with 45% fearing that Africans are being used as guinea pigs in vaccine trials. Among the minority who plan to refuse vaccination, concerns about vaccine safety and exposure to disinformation appear to be key drivers of hesitation.


What should happen next?


Findings from this study are currently informing Africa CDC’s vaccine confidence strategy. ORB has recommended the following:

  • Understand in detail why communities will and will not take the vaccine.
  • Employ strategic communications campaigns to boost vaccine confidence through partnerships with credible voices.
  • Develop programming to teach the public how to identify disinformation.
  • Campaigns need to target specific audiences — there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
     

About ORB

ORB International is a small business operating in 115 countries around the world providing monitoring and evaluation, nationally representative surveys, rapid assessments and specialised research in complex environments. Utilising a data-centric and quality-first model, our primary focus is mixed-methods social and political research including the topics of counter-violent-extremism, governance, and working with vulnerable populations.
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