Understanding the relationship between perceptions of COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy is essential for the formulation of health strategies and policies tailored to each geographical context. A new ISGlobal-coordinated project called IPERVAC-SL will study the impact of perceptions, social imaginary and epidemiological collective memory (i.e. experiences in previous epidemics, such as Ebola virus) on COVID-19 vaccination in Sierra Leone.
Data on social perceptions of COVID-19 vaccines in African countries are scarce. What little data do exist, from cross-sectional surveys, describe perceptions that existed before COVID-19 vaccine distribution began. Using socio-anthropological approaches, IPERVAC-SL will apply qualitative methodologies to understand perceptions of COVID-19 vaccination among adults and health workers, as well as to ascertain the impact of these perceptions on adults’ use of health care services and on childhood immunisation.
“In Sierra Leone, COVID-19 vaccines are administered to adults through the routine childhood vaccination programme, so we will analyse the impact of these perceptions on adults as well as on the vaccination of minors,” commented project coordinator Cristina Enguita.
The study, which has received funding from the Glòria Soler Foundation, will be carried out in three districts of Sierra Leone—Bombali, Tonkolili and Port Loko—where the ICARIA project is also currently being implemented. IPERVAC-SL will also assess the impact of these findings on the implementation of the ICARIA clinical trial in Sierra Leone. It is hoped that the findings obtained in Sierra Leone can be extrapolated to similar contexts elsewhere in the region.