- Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the awareness regarding COVID-19 vaccines and identify the factors underlying refusal.
- Methodology: A cross-sectional study was carried out amongst the general population from different walk of life regarding awareness and myths about COVID-19 vaccine selected by convenient sampling method. To collect data, we developed an online survey using questionnaires regarding beliefs and myths about vaccination. The study was started in March 2021 after approval from the ethical committee. Survey consisting of several questions was created using google form. The link was shared on different social media applications and participants were requested to fill the questionnaires. Some patients and their attendants who were visiting HIT hospital Taxila for any reason were also included in the study and they were requested to fill the form at the spot. Participants were given a brief summary of the survey and its purpose, as well as the study protocol and a declaration of confidentiality and privacy, before beginning the questionnaire.
Data was collected on online server form. Demographic information was noted. They were asked about their registration, vaccination status and their fear regarding vaccine and its complications. They were questioned about myths and misbeliefs about covid 19 vaccine. Post vaccination symptoms, their preference for different types of available vaccine, and need of booster dose were also inquired. Their beliefs regarding effectiveness of vaccine in prevention of covid-19 symptoms and severity and following the SOPs released by health authorities were noted.
- Results: Total 287 individuals were included in this study. 62% were females and 31% were males. 50% were doctors and 30% were not registered for vaccination. 70% of individuals were vaccinated and 83% were not afraid to get vaccination while 50% of people thought that they will get COVID-19 after vaccination. 35% participants were afraid that they will get allergic reaction post vaccination and 9% thought that COVID-19 is fake i.e., there is no such disease as COVID-19. 82% were aware that they will need vaccine even if they had COVID-19. Only 7% of population thought that COVID-19 will change their DNA.
Chi square test was applied to find out statistically significant difference in opinion between three groups i.e., age, gender and academic qualification. Majority of the statistical correlation was found in these questions on the basis of qualification. There was statistically significant difference in opinion depending on academic qualification, health care and non-health care workers shown by p value less than 0.05. Health care professionals think there is need for new vaccinations for every new variant, there were mild covid symptoms post vaccination and there was need of booster dose every year while others have contrary opinion. Medical students didn’t believe in DNA alteration.
Their was also statistically significant difference in opinion between male and female gender. Most female participants believe that there was requirement of new vaccine for every new variant, there were more chances of covid after vaccination and they need booster dose every year to prevent covid while males have opposite opinion. Majority of the post vaccination symptoms were observed in femaleswhile male observed pain on the injection site only
- Conclusion: Awareness and education of general population regarding safety, efficacy and benefits of covid-19 vaccination is the cornerstone of the path to eradicate this pandemic. Different platform of social, print and electronic media plays a pivotal role in this regard. However, the importance of health authorities, religious scholars, social activists and politicians in creating awareness cannot be denied either. Collectively all these factors attribute towards the COVID free Pakistan.
- Key Words: COVID-19, vaccine hesitancy, Pakistan, public awareness, myths
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