Access and hesitancy as major challenges surrounding covid-19 vaccination campaigns

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Eleni Xenophontos, a 4th year medical student at the University of Cyprus. She is currently the National Public Health Officer at the Cyprus Medical Students’ Association-CyMSA. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


It is widely accepted that the demand for vaccines is skyrocketing as the COVID-19 pandemic  continues to place a great burden globally, with more deaths being reported every day and new more infectious and lethal strains of SARS-CoV2 being discovered. In the worldwide race for combating COVID-19 disease 10 different vaccines are currently being used around the world, 64 vaccines are in clinical development and 173 vaccines are in preclinical development. Yet, while there is no significant reserve of vaccines,  this effort in eventually ensuring a sufficient amount of  authorized vaccine doses for covering the populations needs can not be achieved for the next few months. But is that the only challenge surrounding COVID-19 vaccination campaigns?

Nevertheless,  it seems that as local health authorities become more adept at vaccine distribution, they will eventually be able to catch up to the limited supply. This limited supply requires reasonable and equitable prioritizing, giving access to the vulnerable populations-healthcare and social care professionals, elderly and people with underlying health conditions-through transparent decision making and without any personal, financial or political conflict of interest. A phenomenon hindering this rational plan of distribution is “Vaccine Nationalism”. This signing of agreements between governments and pharmaceutical companies for supplying their own populations prior being available for other countries leads to the creation of further supply problems leaving lower-income countries without access to vaccines that can be proved lifesaving. In addition, the global competition for manufacturing the required number of doses may cause the exponential spiking of prices which would not be the case if it was for a collaborative effort such as the COVAX Facility for example. Moreover, “Vaccine Nationalism” has a major impact in prolonging the pandemic while some countries take advantage of the supply racing towards the “ideal image” of a COVID19-free country while other countries will not have the means for making crucial steps towards improvement.

Another factor that undermines the collective effort of carrying out vaccination campaigns successfully is vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy is the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination service as defined by ECDC. The socialization carriers that may amplify this phenomenon are: family, school, government and media through social norms, collective values, policies and immunization requirements altering people’s perception on the vaccine efficacy and safety. Some other determinants can be race/ethnicity, education level, income, past experiences, knowledge about vaccines or even the mental health state of a person which can make them vulnerable to misinformation and extreme ideologies such as those embraced by the anti-vaccine movement. Consequently, this could potentially affect the public’s intention in getting vaccinated.

In conclusion we should always keep in mind that vaccines are the optimal public health strategy for preventing or -in this case- controlling a Health Emergency. As medical students, it’s our duty to advocate about COVID-19 vaccination campaigns; however, realistically speaking, we are not in a position to ensure access but we can eliminate vaccine hesitancy.

About the author

Eleni Xenophontos is a 4th year medical student at the University of Cyprus. She is currently the National Public Health Officer at the Cyprus Medical Students’ Association-CyMSA. She was trained on Leadership on Health Emergencies and has worked for the forming of the Policy Paper on Health Emergencies adopted by IFMSA. She served as the Vice President for External Affairs(2018-2019) and the President (2019-2020) of CYMSA and participated in AM18, AM19, MM20 (Head of Delegation), Virtual EuRegMe, OGA.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Cities: a ’cause of and solution to’ climate change

MEPs cap prices of calls within EU and approve emergency alert system

UN chief hopes for new agreement after Israel concludes international observation mission

How to stay in shape and step up support for refugees

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

‘Dangerous nationalism’ seriously threatens efforts to tackle statelessness: UNHCR chief

Is Eurozone heading towards a long stagnation?

Spain will soon overtake Japan in life expectancy rankings. Here’s why

Sovereign wealth funds could increase equality in a post-COVID world

Election-related violence claims 85 lives in Afghanistan: UN report

Countries must make teaching profession more financially and intellectually attractive

An economist explains what happens if there’s another financial crisis

Commissioner sings “Volar-e” but the European driver no “Cantar-e”

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Transport Industry Drive for Improved Energy Efficiency and Electro-Mobility to Stem High Growth of Emissions

This fascinating map shows how food moves around the US

Draghi left alone with no hope of boosting EU growth as Merkel just focuses on next elections

These 11 companies are leading the way to a circular economy

From social entrepreneurship to systems entrepreneurship: how to create lasting change

Parliament votes for €1 billion in aid to Ukraine

How can education empower youth to become tomorrow’s leaders

Worth going ‘extra mile’ for a new Syrian constitution, UN envoy urges

TTIP is not dead as of yet, the 15th round of negotiations in New York shouts

250+ senior claims leaders under one roof, exchanging transformation strategy

The importance and the need of mobile technology in the health care system and in saving lives

MEPs share concerns about COVID-19 variants

Here’s how we can make innovation more inclusive

ECB settles the bank resolution issue, makes banking union tangible

Davos on Climate Change: citizens demanding more actions while CEOs tried to balance profit with sustainability

Coronavirus: Commission expands talks to a fifth vaccine manufacturer

A 3-step plan for carbon-neutral cars

COVID-19 Update: Solidarity and Joint Efforts Shall be the Main Theme For China and Europe in the Fight Against the Outbreak

2018 Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Maria Ressa of the Philippines

Trump badly cornered at home by agribusiness and steel consumer lobbies: Trade

As conflicts become more complex, ‘mediation is no longer an option; it is a necessity’, UN chief tells Security Council

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

The European reaction to the neo-fascist wind

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

MEPs debate Brexit and relations with China following EU spring summit

Brexit may finally not really happen; The Brits have second thoughts

COVID-19: lessons from Italy on public-private healthcare procurement

Mental health and social isolation: how do have an active participation in self-care?

Climate change and health: creating global awareness and using earth resources wisely

How cocoa farming can help stop deforestation

5 ways the ocean can contribute to a green post-COVID recovery

Trying to cure bank cancer with analgesics

How Islamic finance can build resilience to climate change

COVID-19: Why we must take the widescreen view of workforce uncertainty

Want a more inclusive society? Start with mobility

Mental Health: Role of the individual for their well-being in the pandemic

EU confronts environmental threats as global leaders attempt to revive the global sentiment at NYC climate week

‘Free state aid’ for imprudent banks

We need natural solutions to fight ocean and climate risk

With field schools in Kenya, UN agriculture agency teaches techniques to combat drought

It’s time to switch to a four-day working week, say these two Davos experts

Why building consumer trust is the key to unlocking AI’s true potential

What paleoecology can teach us about fires in the Amazon

UN ‘regrets’ new US position on legality of Israeli settlements

In Yemen, Special Envoy sees UN role in preserving ‘essential’ aid pipeline at country’s major port

Eurozone bank rescues ‘a la carte’ until 2015 then only bail-ins

Peacekeeping chief honours Tanzanian troops in Zanzibar, a year on from deadly DR Congo attacks

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s