In the framework of the Erasmus+ Mundus Joint Master’s Degree entitled “Leading International Vaccinology Education” (LIVE) five students have completed their internship at NESI in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. LIVE is a two years Master’s programme, between five European universities: Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, France (coordinating university); Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain; Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; University of Antwerp, Belgium; Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne, France. The programme is supported by a worldwide network of 31 international associated partners and 16 supporting partners. NESI is supporting partner to the LIVE programme.
Summary of internship project 2021 (1) (LIVE):
Vaccines have been proven to decrease the burden of diseases globally. It is currently one of the most important public health interventions employed globally. However, vaccine hesitancy is still a big problem. With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, there is a lack of available information on the general acceptability of the COVID-19 vaccines among healthcare workers in Oman. Hence, the study aimed to investigate the level of knowledge and acceptability of COVID-19 vaccines and the factors affecting vaccine hesitancy. Included in this are analyses to determine the sources of information and vaccine recommendation behavior of healthcare workers in Oman regarding COVID-19 vaccines. The study used an online cross-sectional survey that was conducted in the eleven governorates of Oman. The study employed Crosstab analysis, Friedman’s test, Bivariate, and Multivariate logistic regression analyses. The Crosstab and Bivariate analyses describe and tabulate the frequency and odds ratio of different variables like social demographics against willingness to be vaccinated. Similarly, multivariate logistic regression models were employed to examine and identify the factors associated with being vaccinated. Friedman’s test was used to rank the most common and suitable source of information and to prioritize groups for vaccination.
He successfully defended his master thesis in Lyon on 18 June 2021.
Dennis Misac D. Giron. Assessing Knowledge and Acceptability of COVID-19 Vaccine among Healthcare Workers in Oman.
Summary of internship project 2021 (2) (LIVE):
The novel COVID-19 disease has overwhelmed the world since 2019, leading to a dramatic loss of human lives worldwide. The WHO officially declared the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, right before being declared as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Vaccination is considered a key strategy to control the COVID-19 pandemic thus, it is important to evaluate the degree of COVID-19 vaccine acceptability of a target population. Although Oman has been recognized as a nation with one of the best childhood immunization programmes in the world (nearly 100% coverage since 2001), adult immunization programs like the influenza vaccine have been subjects of mistaken beliefs leading to low vaccine uptake rates. The exact reasons for the low influenza vaccine acceptability in Oman when the vaccine is available and free of costs are multifaceted and include misperceptions and erroneous interpretations of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, among others. This set of factors might also affect the current COVID-19 vaccination uptake in Oman. It is of special attention as Oman started the COVID-19 vaccination on 27 December 2020 and since then, several vaccines were authorized to prevent COVID-19 in the country. However, people still have doubts about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, especially regarding possible side effects and the relevance of COVID-19 vaccination. Thus, the study aims to assess the COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among the general public in Oman by analysing the knowledge, attitude, and perception (KAP) of adults and elders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using a structured and validated online questionnaire. Adults and elders residing in Oman were invited between 22nd to 25th of December 2020 to participate in this study. Findings suggested the need to develop tailored strategies to address the vaccine hesitancy to ensure optimal vaccine acceptance among the general population in Oman.
The student successfully defended his thesis in Lyon on 18 June 2021.
Sergio Castillo. Assessing COVID-19 vaccine acceptability in the general public, especially adults and elderly, in Oman.
Summary of internship project 2020 (LIVE):
In spite of safe and effective vaccines, measles is still the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths among children under 5 years old. To interrupt measles transmission and prevent the disease, immunising more than 90% of the population is vital. However, achieving the targeted coverage of measles vaccination can be dampened by several reasons; among them is vaccine hesitancy. Since 2016, Uganda experienced several measles outbreaks. Even though all the vaccines are provided by the government for free, the national coverage of the first measles vaccine dose in Kampala Area (Including Wakiso District) was only 86% in 2016. Wakiso District was listed as one of the districts suffering recurrent measles outbreaks in 2018. The study aimed to explore the reasons behind the measles outbreaks in Wakiso District, and whether vaccine hesitancy played a role. Additionally, the study evaluated vaccine hesitancy assessing tool developed by WHO SAGE with the tailored questionnaire adjusted to Uganda country settings and measles disease and vaccination.
The study was conducted in collaboration with ECAVI, using two questionnaires during face-to-face interviews with the general population who presented in health facilities for immunising their child. The results of this project pinpointed the attitude shift towards the newly introduced Measles Rubella vaccine in Uganda with coexisting convenience issues that may dampen the vaccine demand in Wakiso District.
The student successfully defended her thesis in Antwerp on 2 July 2020.
Yu-Tan Chen. Assessing confidence in measles vaccination in Wakiso District, Uganda: Comparison of two data collection tools.
Summary of internship project 2019 (LIVE):
Many countries worldwide are embarking on the introduction of new vaccines, including the HPV vaccine. The South-East Asian Region is the one most lagging behind regarding new vaccine introduction and immunisation programme strengthening. This has considerable impact on child morbidity and mortality, as by far the greatest birth cohorts are in this Region. Indonesia has a well-functioning immunisation programme, with 83% spending on routine immunisation financed by the government. However, recently the immunisation coverage is stagnating. Demonstration projects for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and HPV vaccine are currently being implemented before nation-wide introduction. Rotavirus vaccine has not yet been introduced. As many new vaccines are anticipated to be introduced in the coming years in Indonesia, the study aims to understand the acceptability and potential barriers to vaccination in general and specifically to the HPV vaccine in the general population.
The study used an online self-administered anonymous questionnaire and targeted a sub-population of the general public in Indonesia. The results of this project highlighted which areas need special attention for successful introduction of new vaccines, especially the HPV vaccine.
The student successfully defended his thesis in Barcelona on 13 June 2019.
Madan Khatiwada. To understand the acceptability of vaccines and potential barriers to vaccination in general and specifically to HPV vaccines among university students in Indonesia.
Summary of internship project 2018 (LIVE):
Several countries worldwide are embarking on the introduction of the HPV vaccine into their national immunisation programme. One of the regions lagging behind in the introduction of the HPV vaccine is the Eastern Mediterranean Region. The purpose of this project was to better understand the reasons behind this delay in order to make recommendations to guide countries to successfully introduce the HPV vaccine. Specifically, the project aimed to understand the current knowledge on cervical cancer and HPV vaccine, to identify the acceptability and potential barriers to introduce the HPV vaccine in the region, and to identify optimal delivery and communication strategies with the public. The study used an online self-administered questionnaire targeting university students. The results of this project highlighted areas needing special attention for successful introduction of the HPV vaccine in selected countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The student successfully defended his thesis in Lyon on 12 June 2018.
Inayat Ur Rehman. Knowledge and awareness about cervical cancer, HPV vaccine, its acceptability and potential barriers in its introduction in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (Morocco and Pakistan).
In the framework of the “Master in Epidemiology” at the University of Antwerp one student completed his internship at NESI in 2020.
Summary of internship project 2020:
Vaccination coverage has remained suboptimal at both national and regional levels in Uganda. However, most published literature masks regional/sub-regional differences in the vaccination coverage and determinants. The objective of this study was to determine the regional vaccination coverage trends and predictors of vaccination completion among children aged 12-23 months using the Uganda Demographic Health Surveys (1995-2016). Trends in vaccination coverage, completion and dropout rates among children aged 12-23 months were calculated for each sub-region and key socio-demographic characteristics (Education, Residence, Religion and Wealth) were presented. Bivariate and multivariate analysis was performed in four selected sub-regions to identify the predictors of vaccination completion.
The vaccination completion and coverage rates among children aged 12-23 months in Uganda were found to vary between sub-regions and key socio-demographic characteristics. The proportion of fully vaccinated children aged 12-23 months has persistently remained low in some sub-regions over the last 25 years despite improving BCG, OPV1 and DPT1 coverage. Furthermore, predictors of vaccination completion among children aged 12-23 months in Uganda are not uniform across sub-regions. This implies that when designing interventions to improve utilization of vaccination services in Uganda, it is important to consider these regional differences.
Gerald Okello. Trends of vaccination coverage and determinants of vaccination completion among children aged 12-23 months in Uganda (1995-2016).