Qualitative Assessment of Vaccination Hesitancy among Members of the Apostolic Church of Zimbabwe: A Case Study.

Thursday, 21st of September 2017 Print

J Relig Health. 2017 Jun 19. doi: 10.1007/s10943-017-0428-7. [Epub ahead of print]

Qualitative Assessment of Vaccination Hesitancy among Members of the Apostolic Church of Zimbabwe: A Case Study.

Machekanyanga Z1 Ndiaye S23 Gerede R4 Chindedza K5 Chigodo C4 Shibeshi ME1 Goodson J6 Daniel F1 Zimmerman L6 Kaiser R167.

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Vaccine hesitancy or lack of confidence in vaccines is considered a threat to the success of vaccination programs. The rise and spread of measles outbreaks in southern Africa in 2009-2010 were linked to objections among Apostolic Church members estimated at about 3.5 million in Zimbabwe as of 2014. To inform planning of interventions for a measles-rubella vaccination campaign we conducted an assessment of the factors contributing to vaccine hesitancy using data from various stakeholders. Among nine districts in three regions of Zimbabwe we collected data on religious attitudes toward and perceptions of vaccines through focus group discussions with health workers serving Apostolic communities and members of the National Expanded Programme on Immunization; semi-structured interviews with religious leaders; and open-ended questions in structured interviews with Apostolic parents/caregivers. Poor knowledge of vaccines lack of understanding and appreciation of the effectiveness of vaccinations religious teachings that emphasize prayers over the use of medicine lack of privacy in a religiously controlled community and low levels of education were found to be the main factors contributing to vaccine hesitancy among key community members and leaders. Accepting vaccination in public is a risk of sanctions. Poor knowledge of vaccines is a major factor of hesitancy which is reinforced by religious teachings on the power of prayers as alternatives. Because parents/caregivers perceive vaccines as dangerous for their children and believe they can cause death or disease members of the Apostolic Church have more confidence in alternative methods such as use of holy water and prayers to treat diseases. Under these circumstances it is important to debunk the myths about the power of holy water on the one hand and disseminate positive information of the efficacy of vaccines on the other hand in order to reduce hesitancy. Education about vaccines and vaccination in conjunction with government intervention for example through the use of social distancing policies can provide a framework for reducing hesitancy and increasing demand for vaccination.


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