The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published the advice it submitted to inform and assist the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on factors that influence vaccination uptake. The advice is accompanied by an evidence summary and protocol.
The report examined:
- the potential barriers to and facilitators of vaccination uptake
- interventions to improve vaccination uptake.
With a number of COVID-19 vaccines currently under consideration by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), it is important to understand the factors that influence and the measures that improve vaccine uptake. HIQA examined the evidence relating to uptake of influenza vaccination (seasonal or pandemic) due to similarities in the groups that will be prioritised for vaccination.
Dr Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “COVID-19 vaccination, when used in conjunction with public health measures such as physical distancing, face masks, and hand hygiene, has the potential to significantly reduce the disease burden across the world.
Ireland has already shown how widespread adoption of public health measures can limit the spread of coronavirus. This success was largely based on knowledge and consensus. Trust, communication and knowledge are core to informed decision-making and should be central to any vaccination campaign.
We know from our research that healthcare workers are an important at-risk population group, as well as being a trusted source of information on health matters. It is vital that healthcare workers and leaders in local communities are provided with evidence-based information ahead of any vaccination programme.”
HIQA has advised that a COVID-19 vaccine communication campaign should include information on how the vaccines work, evidence on their safety and effectiveness, and provide clarity on the processes regulatory agencies, such as the EMA, follow when approving vaccines as well as the requirements for post-marketing continuous evaluation. This information will help the general public make informed decisions.
Dr Ryan said: “Reviewing the evidence on the effectiveness of a vaccine doesn’t stop when a vaccine campaign begins. As the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out in Ireland and across the world, updated evidence in relation to effectiveness and safety must be made available in an open and accountable manner, so trust can be maintained.”
COVID-19 is unique in terms of its impact. Societal experiences following months of public health measures aimed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic will also likely impact on vaccination uptake preferences and behaviours. As time progresses, a different picture of which measures work best may develop.
This review and advice was developed by HIQA following requests from NPHET and can be found on HIQA’s website, www.hiqa.ie.