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Saint Lucia COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Survey Report 2021

Background

Limited take up of COVID-19 vaccines has been an ongoing issue hampering the response to the pandemic across the Eastern Caribbean subregion as elsewhere. Vaccination has emerged as the best possible tool to stem the tide of a pandemic which is having a profoundly negative impact on children and their families.

UNICEF and USAID commissioned Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES)  conducted a survey on vaccine hesitancy across six countries: Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

The study was carried out in October and November 2021 and explores the extent of, and reasons for, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and if anything can be done to change the minds of those reluctant to take the vaccines.

These are the findings for St. Lucia.

Demographics

The St. Lucia survey was conducted face-to-face with 800 participants, evenly spread across males and females and three age ranges. 54% said they were parents. The majority were employed, had a secondary-level education and 11% reported being unemployed because of COVID-19.

800

Sex and age profile

Male Female

Sex

18 – 30 years 31 – 50 years 51 years and older Age group

General findings

1. 55% of respondents in St. Lucia said they had been vaccinated.

Of the six countries surveyed St. Lucia is one of the most vaccine hesitant (second only to St. Vincent and the Grenadines) according to the Vaccine Hesitancy Index tool used in this study. The country scored 5.1 on this index where 1 is a perfect score, 3 is the objective score and 10 an imperfect one.

General views and opinions on the vaccination of children

2. Respondents were asked if they would agree to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19. Only a quarter said yes at primary level and less than half for those at secondary school.

Would you agree to have children vaccinated against COVID-19?

Pre-primary Primary school Secondary school Post-secondary/tertiary level

Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No

19% 70% 25% 63% 43% 45% 53% 31%

COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Survey Report 2021

3. The chief justification respondents (vaccinated and unvaccinated) gave for hesitating to vaccinate their children related to age. One in five said their children were too young.

Main reasons for vaccine hesitancy relating to children

Too young 22%

Against my religion 1%

Don’t like the options available 3%

My children have a medical condition that bars them 1%

Don’t trust the government/medical authorities 4%

My research tells me it is not a good idea 6%

It is a choice and I choose not to 7%

I just won’t let them take it 5%

4. For those who were persuaded to allow their children to take vaccines, this was because they did more research or spoke to their doctor/paediatrician.

Views and opinions of VACCINATED persons

Vaccine uptake

5. As noted, 55% of respondents in St. Lucia report having been vaccinated, with Oxford/AstraZeneca the most used at 55%. The next most popular was BioNTech/ Pfizer (41%). 53% of people took what was available while 47% chose their preferred vaccine.

Initial vaccine hesitancy

6. The reasons for early hesitancy were a lack of trust in the vaccines on account of the speed of their development and uncertainty over long-term side effects.

Reasons for initial hesitancy

Didn’t qualify before 0%

Didn’t like vaccine options available 3%

Religious grounds 2%

Medical condition 3%

Didn’t trust government 3%

Didn’t trust medical authorities 4%

Didn’t trust the vaccines (unsafe/developed too quickly/unsure what’s in it) 17%

Unsure about long-term side effects 18%

The major factors that convinced respondents to get the vaccine themselves involved doing more research

Editor’s Note: Read the entire report in the upcoming Midweek Newspaper

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