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The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 issue 30: Addressing vaccine hesitancy

Strategies to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy are among the current hot topics debated in the latest issue of The Manchester Briefing published today.

The fortnightly briefing, produced by Alliance MBS and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, brings together international lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal in the wake of the pandemic.

As vaccine delivery programmes gain pace, attention has turned in recent weeks to vaccine hesitancy and the associated challenges of achieving optimal vaccination goals. Recent studies have identified three predominant groups that are at higher risk of COVID-19 vaccine refusal, so requiring targeted strategies and communications to address their concerns. These include women aged 30-39, low income groups, and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and BAME communities.

The Briefing discusses potential causes for the hesitancy such as the speed at which the COVID-19 vaccines were produced and approved which may lead to scepticism or mistrust relating to their benefit and effectiveness and long-term side effects. Pregnant women were also not included in the majority of COVID-19 clinical trials so there was little data available to evaluate vaccine safety relating to fertility, pregnancy and young children. And misinformation through social media is cited as another reason for vaccine hesitancy.

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Vaccine passports

Elsewhere in the Briefing there is a discussion over vaccine passports for COVID-19. Vaccination certification, sometimes referred to as immunity/vaccine passports, are being considered by some countries as a strategy to relax the strict measures that have been imposed on society over the last year. The Briefing considers the ethical issues associated with varying restrictions on individual liberties based on possession of a vaccine certificate.

There is also discussion about how the vaccine will be delivered to unregistered people. While the vaccine programme may be in its early stage in many countries, thought is required on how to access people who are not on any social services list or registered in any location. This includes homeless people, illegal immigrants, stateless people and refugees. The Briefing reports that excluding such people from the programme risks the virus continuing to affect them, and then spreading into other parts of society.

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Community resilience

The renewal of community resilience also comes under the spotlight in the latest issue with a call to establish community resilience as a new local and national resilience capability. The Briefing discusses how our response to COVID-19 is a major opportunity for us to renew our local resilience by continuing the community action built during the pandemic.

The Briefing also takes a special look at a targeted contact tracing programme to support the regeneration of live entertainment events. The live music and entertainment industry has of course been heavily affected by the pandemic, but a targeted contact tracing programme could enable the return of events and keep the public safe by identifying and containing a spread of the virus quickly.

The Briefing considers the costs of such an initiative and assesses its affordability, while also looking at the feasibility of establishing and training a dedicated events contact tracing team.

*The Briefing has been running since the pandemic began a year ago. It is aimed at those who plan and implement recovery from COVID-19, including government emergency planners and resilience officers. The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to the pandemic.

Download this week's Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 (issue 30)

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