Socialise to Immunise: boosting vaccination uptake through Facebook
In Myanmar's Kachin state only 54-60% of children under 2 years have received all basic vaccinations. However, the rates for individual vaccination of children is much higher, such as 91.2% for the BCG vaccine.[i]
We know that vaccine hesitancy is a complex issue. The WHO identifies three main driving factors; confidence, complacency and convenience.
Conventional methods to increase basic child vaccination rates, mostly target caregivers directly to increase people’s knowledge and thus change attitudes and behaviour.
Our own research shows that social networks have a strong influence on immunisation behaviour.[ii] An important factor in this respect is the ‘social bandwagon effect’, meaning that caregivers do what everyone does, adhere to the social-cultural norm regarding vaccination, which can be to either follow or not follow the vaccination schedules. The slightest increase in uptake by influential individuals in a group leads to positive spillover in the wider community.[iii]
Our Socialise to Immunise project will be piloting and testing an unconventional approach, using Facebook. This interactive approach, based on the premise that the social norm of vaccination behaviour is strongly influenced by peer pressure (social bandwagon), will involve and connect different stakeholders in the vaccination-demand process: caregivers, household decision-makers, community immunisation champions, community members, health care providers.
This approach is innovative as it will trial a digital social network which simultaneously addresses the three driving factors as identified by WHO. This update shows how the first stages of the project are progressing and some learnings we are taking forward.
[ii] Shi et al., Voluntary vaccination through self organizing behaviors on locally mixed social networks, Scientific Reports 7, 2017 (2665)
[iii] Buttenheim AM, Asch DA. Behavioral economics: the key to closing the gap for MDGs 4 and 5? Maternal and child health journal 2013; 17 (4): 581-5
[i] Myanmar Demographic and Health Survey, 2015-2016