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Tackling vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Child vax The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified some fears and misapprehensions around immunisation

As of November 2020, there were over 58 million reported cases of COVID-19 disease and almost 1.4 million deaths globally.1 Severe COVID-19 disease disproportionately affects those aged 70 years and older and individuals with comorbidities such as diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease.

A safe and effective vaccine against severe COVID-19 disease is needed to help control the global pandemic. In November 2020, 48 potential vaccine candidates were in clinical trials with a further 164 in preclinical testing.2 All vaccines must meet the World Health Organisation product profile for prequalification of a COVID-19 vaccine. This requires vaccines to be targeted at the most at-risk groups; have favourable safety profile; provide efficacy as measured by prevention of virologically confirmed disease or transmission or both; and to provide at least 6 months of protection for individuals at ongoing risk of exposure to the virus (SARS-CoV-2).3

Amongst the promising results of COVID-19 vaccines,4 there are also studies highlighting that the public trust and acceptance of the vaccines are crucial to their success.5 Vaccine hesitancy is a growing global concern, adversely affecting vaccine coverage and herd immunity.6

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