Vaccines are effective in preventing infectious diseases and their complications, hence reducing morbidity and infectious disease mortaity. Successful immunization programs, however, depend on high vaccine acceptance and coverage rates. In recent years there has been an increased level of public concern towards real or perceived adverse events associated with immunizations, leading to many people in high- as well as low-resource settings to refuse vaccines. Health care workers therefore must be able to provide parents and guardians of children with the most current and accurate information about the benefits and risks of vaccination. Communicating vaccine safety using appropriate channels plays a crucial role in maintaining public trust and confidence in vaccination programs.
Several factors render this endeavor especially challenging in low-resource settings where literacy rates are low and access to information is often limited. Many languages are spoken in most countries in low-resource settings, making the provision of appropriate information difficult. Poor infrastructure often results in inadequate logistics. Recently, some concerned consumer groups have been able to propagate misinformation and rumors. To successfully communicate vaccine safety in a resource limited setting it is crucial to use a mix of communication channels that are both culturally acceptable and effective.
Social mobilization through cultural, administrative and political leaders, the media or text messages (SMS) as well as the adoption of the Village Health Team (VHT) strategy whereby trained community members (Community Health Workers (CHWs)) are providing primary healthcare, can all be effective in increasing the demand for immunization.