Across 19 countries, a survey of 13,426 respondents found that 14% would hesitate or refuse to accept vaccination against COVID-19 (Nature Medicine 2020). Translated onto a global scale, these findings are deeply concerning, suggesting that millions of people may choose not to be immunized.
The WFPHA Immunization Taskforce fears that the lack of a coordinated response to growing vaccine hesitancy will further exacerbate the morbidity and mortality rates of the pandemic. In particular, there is concern that the uncontrolled spread of misinformation will disproportionately harm the most at-risk, vulnerable communities. As global COVID-19 immunization begins, health organizations and governments must be equipped to promote trust in the vaccines being distributed and must work alongside healthcare providers who are responsible for delivery.
Therefore, the WFPHA Immunization Taskforce recommends:
- National authorities, NGOs and health organizations should publicly express support for subnational and/or community-led initiatives that address vaccine hesitancy to help sustain local COVID-19 immunization efforts.
- The international community should acknowledge that life course immunization is a key component of universal health coverage and a necessary preventative measure that can save millions of lives.
- Public health officials and organizations should express their concerns about the lack of investment and infrastructure needed to target public health messages to at-risk populations and recommend investing in public health promotion and literacy as a preventative measure.
- Knowledge translation research efforts be strengthened to enhance communication between public health professionals, policymakers, and the general public with the goal of establishing a common agenda.
5. Governments should maintain transparency about vaccine funding and development to ensure that the general public understands how this intervention best serves public health interests.
WHO (2020) The push for a COVID-19 vaccine. Available at:
accessed: November 2020.
WHO (2020) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccine research and development. Available at:
Last accessed: November 2020.
Nature (2020) What Pfizer’s landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic. Available at:
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03166-8. Last accessed: November 2020.
WHO (2020) WHO’s Science in 5 on COVID-19 – Vaccines. Available at:
5/episode-5. Last accessed: November 2020
WHO (2008) Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death, and inequity worldwide.
Available at: https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/2/07-040089/en/. Last accessed: November
WHO (2019) Ten threats to global health in 2019. Available at: https://www.who.int/newsroom/
spotlight/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019. Last accessed: November 2020.
Nature Medicine (2020) A global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Available at:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-1124-9. Last accessed November 2020.
International Journal of Public Health (2020) When a COVID-19 vaccine is ready, will we all be ready
for it? Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00038-020-01404-4. Last accessed