Although the approved COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective, mass vaccination in Bangladeshi people remains a challenge. As a vaccination effort, the study provided an empirical evidence on willingness to vaccinate by sociodemographic, clinical and regional differences in Bangladeshi adults.
This cross-sectional analysis from a household survey of 3646 adults aged 18 years or older was conducted in 8 districts of Bangladesh, from December 12, 2020, to January 7, 2021. Multinomial regression examined the impact of socio-demographic, clinical and healthcare-releated factors on hesitancy and reluctance of vaccination for COVID-19.
Of the 3646 respondents (2212 men [60.7%]; mean [sd] age, 37.4 [13.9] years), 74.6% reported their willingness to vaccinate against COVID-19 when a safe and effective vaccine is available without a fee, while 8.5% were reluctant to vaccinate. With a minimum fee, 46.5% of the respondents showed intent to vaccinate. Among the respondents, 16.8% reported adequate adherence to health safety regulations, and 35.5% reported high confidence in the country’s healthcare system. The COVID-19 vaccine refusal was significantly high in elderly, rural, semi-urban, and slum communities, farmers, day-laborers, homemakers, low-educated group, and those who had low confidence in the country’s healthcare system. Also, the prevalence of vaccine hesitancy was high in the elderly population, low-educated group, day-laborers, people with chronic diseases, and people with low confidence in the country’s healthcare system.
A high prevalence of vaccine refusal and hesitancy was observed in rural people and slum dwellers in Bangladesh. The rural community and slum dwellers had a low literacy level, low adherence to health safety regulations and low confidence in healthcare system. The ongoing app-based registration for vaccination increased hesitancy and reluctancy in low-educated group. For rural, semi-urban, and slum people, outreach centers for vaccination can be established to ensure the vaccine’s nearby availability and limit associated travel costs. In rural areas, community health workers, valued community-leaders, and non-governmental organizations can be utilized to motivate and educate people for vaccination against COVID-19. Further, emphasis should be given to the elderly and diseased people with tailored health messages and assurance from healthcare professionals. The media may play a responsible role with the vaccine education program and eliminate the social stigma about the vaccination. Finally, vaccination should be continued without a fee and thus Bangladesh’s COVID vaccination program can become a model for other low and middle-income countries.