Targeting Behavioral Barriers to COVID-19 Prevention in Nigeria
- Many Nigerians remain hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Health workers are a priority group for encouraging widespread vaccine uptake, both for their frontline role and social influence.
- We’re adapting and testing behavioral interventions to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake among health care workers and to identify solutions that address behavioral challenges around the prevention of COVID-19.
Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 requires both public compliance with recommendations to limit the spread of the virus, as well as vaccination to protect priority populations. Health care workers are one such priority group central to health service delivery, including ensuring the further uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine concerns and hesitancy among health workers can discourage uptake in the general population.
To date, only a minority of health workers in Nigeria have received the full vaccine course. In addition to improving vaccination rates, ensuring that the general public understands and follows through on recommended actions to take when they suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19, are symptomatic, or confirmed positive, is important to protect vulnerable groups.
Supporting Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria’s (BA-N) COVID-19 community engagement and demand efforts, ideas42 led two activities:
- To adapt and user test behavioral interventions to increase acceptance and use of the COVID-19 vaccine with a focus on health care workers, and
- Identifying solutions to address behavioral challenges around the prevention of COVID-19.
The vaccine work built on and adapted to the Nigerian context solutions developed in other countries to target behavioral barriers preventing health workers from taking up the vaccine. The prevention work drew from conversations with stakeholders and insights from behavioral science to suggest potential solutions to addressing identified barriers that could be implemented in Nigeria to increase appropriate compliance with preventive actions (e.g., testing, social distancing, face masks).
Based on learnings from user testing, three solutions focusing on health worker vaccine uptake were recommended to move forward for implementation by service delivery partners. They aimed to increase the visibility of health workers who have successfully taken the vaccine, leverage peer referrals to encourage vaccination among those who have not, and build confidence in health workers’ knowledge of the vaccine and ability to counsel others.
In a rapidly changing landscape, understanding and considering the behavioral challenges influencing COVID-19 vaccine uptake and preventive behaviors are important to any country’s efforts to control the pandemic. Solutions targeting hesitancy and uptake among health workers in similar contexts can resonate in Nigeria and lead to innovative solutions that encourage vaccination and slow the spread of the virus.
Interested in our work applying behavioral science to global health? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at @ideas42 to join the conversation.