The Health October 2021 - Page 10

There is now increasing knowledge and acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccine following initial doubts

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THE HEALTH | OCTOBER , 2021

| Cover Story |

Queuing for vaccination at the World Trade Centre

LESS VACCINE resistance now

There is now increasing knowledge and acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccine following initial doubts

BY KHIRTINI K KUMARAN

WHEN THE Covid-19 virus shrouded the world , vaccines were touted as the best solution to contain the pandemic .

Vaccines were developed in record time , and the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines were among the first to roll out for mass vaccination programmes in December 2020 .
While nations rushed to obtain the vaccines , some countries , including Malaysia , hesitancy towards Covid-19 vaccines seemed to be a problem . It posed a major setback to achieving herd immunity and containing the pandemic .
Associate Professor Dr Mohd Dzulkhairi Mohd Rani of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia ( USIM ) and his research team conducted several surveys to determine readiness and acceptance by Malaysians of the Covid-19 vaccines and the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme ( NIP ).
Series of surveys
Dr Dzulkhairi said : “ The first survey was done in December 2020 , when the Pfizer- BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were approved for vaccination .
“ The next survey was done in February
2021 , just before the NIP was launched in March . And we did a follow-up study in August .”
The first survey was an independent initiative of Dr Dzulkhairi and his research team , and they reached out to about 1,400 respondents nationwide . The survey used both quantitative and qualitative approaches . For the quantitative approach , some of the questions in the study were objective questions , whereby the respondent ’ s choice of answer is either yes or no . For the rest of the questions , they needed to state their agreement or disagreement based on the scale of one to five from strongly disagreeing to strongly agreeing .
“ In the qualitative approach , we asked for feedback with open-ended questions . Respondents were free to write down their answers and voice out their opinions .”
They then published ‘ Knowledge , acceptance and perception on Covid-19 vaccine among Malaysians : A web-based survey ’ report .
“ The Ministry of Health ( MoH ) came to know about the study and was interested in the findings .
“ My team and I went to the
Minister of Health and presented the study to the MoH ’ s strategic communication team , and they suggested conducting another survey just before the vaccine rollout under the NIP .
“ The second study was in February 2021 , and this time we collaborated with the MoH .
“ The strategic communication team helped us to distribute the survey forms on MoH ’ s online platforms , including their websites and social media . We received 2,011 respondents for the second survey .”
According to Dr Dzulkhairi , the findings were helpful for MoH to determine which group needed the most focus and enhance their health promotion strategies for the NIP .
The most recent survey was in August and early September , and it obtained about 3,000 plus respondents .
“ This time , we collaborated with Institute for Health Behavioral Research along with the MoH as well ,” he shared , adding that the third survey finding is in the analysis stage .
Dr Dzulkhairi said it was interesting to see the trend in knowledge and acceptance regarding the Covid-19 vaccine .
Acceptance increased over time
The public awareness and knowledge of Covid-19 vaccines have increased over time .
He shared that in December , only 38 per cent of the respondents had good vaccine knowledge , while the February survey showed about 55 per cent of respondents as having good vaccine knowledge .
The preliminary analysis of the third survey shows a good majority of the respondents , about 70 to 80 per cent , possessing sound knowledge . He explained : “ This is likely due to Covid-19 vaccine information that Malaysians , or the respondents received at the particular time when conducting each survey .
“ In the first survey , vaccine acceptance among the respondents was 64.5 per cent . In the second , there was a tremendous increase . Nearly 80 per cent of the respondents were willing to get vaccinated when the NIP started .
“ The survey results in February are comparable to other studies done at the same time worldwide . Our research finding of nearly
80 per cent acceptance rate is among the highest acceptance rate , as most other countries had acceptance rates of about 60 per cent .”