There are still many ‘unknowns’ around vaccines, including how long they confer protection, and the risks of vaccinated individuals passing on SARS-CoV-2 to others. While vaccines for COVID-19 have been developed rapidly and efficiently, there are still substantial challenges for global vaccination programmes in terms of vaccine access and delivery at an unprecedented scale. Given this, we need to create reasonable expectations about how the pandemic will evolve, what it will take for COVID-19 to no longer be a public health threat, and to encourage people to continue to practice COVID-19 preventative behaviours. Vaccines are only one of the tools we need to control the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore we need to avoid presenting the vaccine as ‘the solution’ but rather that it is ‘part of the solution’. The response must keep sight of the history of other diseases. This BBC article provides a visual explanation of how other pandemics have evolved and makes the point that many of the diseases which rampaged through societies in the past, are still around but are no longer major public health threats. Ultimately, the choice is not vaccines OR other key preventative measures, but rather we need to adopt programming which allows vaccines and prevention measures to be promoted jointly to protect individuals, families and communities. For more information on the effectiveness of other COVID-19 prevention behaviours search the Hygiene Hub resources.

Key takeaways:

  • For the foreseeable future, COVID-19 response actors should promote in equal measure – vaccination, hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, mask-wearing, physical distancing and tackle misinformation on a rolling basis.

Want to learn more about integrating vaccine promotion into COVID-19 prevention work:

Editor Notes:

Written by: Jenny Lamb

Reviewed by: Lizzie McKee, Tom Heath, Victoria Maskell, Genevieve Hutchinson, Sarah Malycha, Rupali J. Limaye, Sian White, Daniel Korbel

Last update: 30.06.2021

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