The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines vaccine hesitancy as a delay in accepting or refusing vaccines despite their availability.
“People hesitated even though vaccines were available. Confidence, complacency, and convenience were influencing factors,” explained Associate Professor Dr Mohd Dzulkhairi Mohd Rani of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM).
“Vaccine hesitancy is an old phenomenon. It has always been around even with the childhood immunisation programme, not just the Covid-19 vaccine.”
Based on a ‘Knowledge, acceptance and perception on Covid-19 vaccine among Malaysians: A web-based survey’ report by Dr Dzulkhairi and his research team, there were several reasons for the hesitancy.
From the first survey conducted in December 2020, one of the main reasons was the fear and doubt of the safety and effectiveness of the rapidly developed Covid-19 vaccines.
Other common concerns
“Before the vaccine roll-out, respondents who disagreed with being vaccinated stated they were not ready yet. There was limited clinical data initially. They wanted more information, more studies to be done and wanted to see the effectiveness of the vaccine.”
There was also concern about side effects such as infertility, altering DNA, death, or other future unknown results.
“Some of the respondents even suggested politicians and frontliners should be vaccinated first. They wanted to see if there were adverse effects of the vaccines before deciding.
Dr Dzulkhairi also noted a significant number of Muslim respondents said they were doubtful of the vaccine’s halal status and the contents of the vaccines.
“There was also distrust of the vaccine’s country of origin and producer, particularly China, where the virus originated.”
Some were distrustful of the vaccine itself and were keener on developing self-immunity.
Other reasons for vaccine hesitancy included government and political conspiracy theories and illuminati agenda. — The Health