Overcoming Vaccine Reluctance – The Key to Overcoming Covid – The European Sting – Critical news and insights into European politics, business, foreign affairs, business and technology

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This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Mr. Krish Keswani who is currently a sophomore at GMERS Medical College, Gotri in Vadodara, India. He is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), a warm partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA or The European Sting on the subject.

If there is one event in the past decade that has unexpectedly affected the entire world and is still doing so, it has to be the coronavirus pandemic. The advent of the Covid vaccines has brought as much hope to the world as the chaos Covid has brought upon it. Victory is not yet won, however, because Covid is not yet defeated.

The arrival of vaccines has thrown the spotlight on another serious issue that is imperative to understand as it stands in the way of humanity’s conquest via Covid; the subject of vaccination reluctance in the population.

The general population’s reluctance to accept and take safe and reliable vaccines is known as vaccine hesitancy. This problem existed before Covid-19 with the rise of various anti-vaccination groups worldwide, but the pandemic has definitely aggravated it into something much more sinister. Therefore, overcoming vaccination hesitation has become the biggest marketing campaign and challenge of our time.

Establishing effective communication strategies is key to overcoming vaccination hesitation. The first and most important step is to overcome misinformation about vaccines in the general population. One study has advocated that public health providers/officials, including but not limited to physicians and government public health officials, should use advertising and marketing practices effectively; This could include a doctor debunking and debunking popular myths about vaccines on his social media to further bolster positive sentiment about vaccines.

It has been observed that vaccine skeptics far outnumber outright vaccine refusers, so the second and arguably most important part of the equation is to influence the minds of such skeptics. The need of the hour is to shift the focus from producing and distributing vaccines to maximizing their uptake. Similarly, capturing the market share of the skeptics is a responsibility that rests on the shoulders of community leaders, local health workers, and employers. The proven way to increase vaccine uptake is to offer incentives to the common man to get them through the door of a nearby vaccination center. Employers can play a crucial role here by providing their employees with paid time off to get vaccinated. Government also has a role to play here, as seen in the case of North Carolina, USA, where the government gave a $25 cash incentive to all adults who received their vaccination or drove someone else to get their get the first vaccination. The effectiveness of such incentives is considered maximum when their receipt is certain and they are delivered promptly.

Therefore, it is apt to say that the world is not facing a vaccine supply shortage, but rather a demand shortage that will require the combined effort of physicians and those in positions of power to overcome.

About the author

Krish Keswani is currently a second year student at GMERS Medical College, Gotri in Vadodara, India. From an early age he showed an interest in medicine. On the surface he may seem like an ordinary medical student, but he has a knack for writing and speaking, a skill he has developed since childhood. He did his schooling in Dubai and in his senior year secured second place at his school. Aside from pursuing his academic goals, he enjoys writing, practicing the guitar, and exercising.

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