Improving COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Pakistan

Project Active from to State Effectiveness

COVID-19 vaccines have been made in record time, however there may be a potentially larger issue with overcoming vaccine hesitancy to achieve herd immunity. This project investigates the use of behavioural nudges that help to create a feeling of vaccine dose ownership, alongside vaccinating on-spot and providing more information on side effects to see if willingness to vaccinate increases.

The race to provide COVID-19 vaccines has resulted in a great number of viable vaccines in record time. A potentially larger issue will be with overcoming vaccine hesitancy and convincing enough people to vaccinate to result in herd immunity.

Vaccinations have been a contentious political issue in Pakistan, particularly among minority ethnic or religious groups. Concerns have been raised around the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as how it might affect fertility.

A recent Gallup poll found 37% did not intend to vaccinate once a COVID vaccine became available in Pakistan. To ensure uptake, the government will need to roll out an evidence-based plan over the next 3-5 years to address factors that shape hesitancy.

Recent literature suggests it can benefit from behavioural “nudges”, for example a recent study which showed text-based reminders make vaccination straightforward, easy, and those that create a feeling of vaccine dose ownership helped improve vaccination outcomes.

However, the use of these behavioural nudges in conjunction with factors that shape hesitancy remain under-investigated. Building on literature and our recent project on vaccine hesitancy among low-income households, we aim to test if offering to vaccinate on spot, a simple opt-in offer to respondents who come in for routine care in hospitals, increases their willingness to vaccinate. The offer will be combined with two other treatments which will focus on testing the impact of vaccine ownership and information on side effects. The findings of this study can be used by the government to scale up vaccine uptake in the country.