Debate: How to protect against COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

How to protect against COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

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COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans are being drawn up worldwide. But, studies have found that vaccine mistrust and hesitancy could compromise the efficacy of coronavirus immunisation programmes.

What is driving vaccine safety fears and what can be done to build confidence in vaccines across the global South? A special SciDev.Net panel debated on how to communicate vaccine science in developing countries, engage the public, and combat misinformation.

The panel:

Zaichen Mallace-Lu, strategic programmes manager in public engagement, Wellcome. Mallace-Lu works on engaging people and communities on science and research to tackle urgent global health challenges. His work focusses on improving vaccine access and uptake. He previously worked in the youth sector.

Natalia Pasternak, president, Instituto Questão de Ciência (Science Question Institute). Pasternak is a microbiologist and a member of Team Halo, which is using social media to connect communities, scientists and coronavirus researchers. Team Halo was established in partnership with the Vaccine Confidence Project and collaborates with UN Verified and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Alison Wiyeh, research assistant, START Center; member of Women in Global Health. Prior to joining the START Center, Wiyeh worked as a senior scientist at Cochrane South Africa, a unit of the South African Medical Research Council. Her research interests include vaccine implementation research and infectious disease epidemiology.

Special appearance:

David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; head of The Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security. Heymann worked with the World Health Organization for 22 years on communicable diseases. Prior to the WHO, he worked in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and India on Ebola, smallpox, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.