LAHORE: A post-Covid-19 vaccine survey conducted across Punjab to assess the public’s response to, and satisfaction with, the jabs revealed that none of the respondents experienced any major adverse events following immunisation (AEFIs), while only four reported that they contracted the virus after vaccination.
Out of these four, only two respondents reported to have confirmed diagnosis through PCR tests and also all four of the respondents reported to have experienced mild symptoms of Covid.
As per the results, 66 per cent of the respondents did not experience any AEFIs, 30.6pc experienced them after the first dose, while the most common effect reported was fatigue/tiredness.
The survey was part of the Technical Assistance to Improve Health Service Delivery in Punjab project that with support from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and being managed by Oxford Policy Management aimed at providing support to the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department in the development and application of new policies, strategies and governance mechanisms, with an overarching goal of improving health outcomes in the province. For the Punjab government, Dr Ainul Momina conducted the survey with the financial assistance of UKAid.
Results of the Punjab-wide telephonic survey were based on a sample size of 1,325 out of which 795 were found to be vaccinated, while the rest did not receive any jab. As per the socio-demographic characteristics of the vaccinated respondents, 78.7pc were male, 84.3pc were urban residents, 46.2pc aged between 40 and 49, 96.9pc were married, 69.6pc were employed, 55.2pc worked in the private sector, the family income of 47.6pc of them ranged between Rs20,001 and Rs50,000, and 48.2pc had access to four or more media sources.
According to the results, 91pc of the vaccinated respondents were willing to get vaccinated again if needed, 86pc were satisfied with their decision to get inoculated, 87pc were likely to recommend the vaccines to others, while only one-third felt that Covid-19 had a ‘small’ impact on their lives.
The survey also revealed that 80.9pc of the respondents got vaccinated over concern for personal and the health of loved ones, 54.5pc were influenced by government and media campaigns, 38.4pc got jabbed because of their sense of social responsibility, and 18pc did it out of social/employer pressure.
On the other hand, among the respondents who did not get vaccinated, 6.2pc were discouraged owing to difficulty in access to a vaccination centre, lack of an identity card and the waiting time at a centre; 50.4pc had the perception that vaccines were unsafe, useless or ineffective; 17.9pc believed in myths/misinformation about vaccines on social media, while 11.3pc even believed that Covid-19 did not exist.
More of the vaccinated respondents (94.6pc) felt there was a need to follow preventive measures (wash/sanitise hands, wear a mask, avoid public gatherings and practice social distancing) after vaccination compared to non-vaccinated respondents (66.8pc).
Based on these findings, the study also presented some recommendations that included devising strategies to instill confidence in people to get vaccinated (offering incentives, groceries/medical vouchers, encouragement etc); involving doctors, religious leaders and influencers to encourage people to get vaccinated and form community mobilisation teams for outreach.
To increase access to vaccines, the study recommended door-to-door vaccination drives for marginalised and vulnerable groups, particularly women in rural areas; introducing alternate means of confirming identification (phone number, home address, spouse’s identity card, etc) for all individuals without ID cards; removing barriers to vaccination (mobile vaccination centres and/or camps at union council-level and 24/7 services at vaccination centres).
It also recommended creating awareness and sharing information by notifying standard operating procedures for social media for sharing Covid-19-related information; developing Information Education Communication material aimed at dispelling myths and information regarding vaccines; and strengthening provincial reporting mechanisms for AEFIs and vaccine-related data management systems.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021