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Vaccine

Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong

Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong

Vaccination is the key to winning the battle against the novel coronavirus. It primes the human immune system to fight against the disease infection and that builds a firewall to counter the spread of the virus through society. Governments around the globe have been racing to vaccinate their nationals against COVID-19 since December, 2020. Despite the midst of recursive outbreaks and virus mutation, as of the 25th of June 2021 only 20.0% of Hong Kong’s population had received both doses of a vaccine 1, far below the globally-recognized threshold of at least 80% to achieve herd immunity.

 

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The HKSAR government launched an “Early Vaccination for All” campaign at the end of May in an attempt to accelerate the pace of vaccination. It included rewarding government employees who get vaccinated with one day of vaccination leave, relaxing social distance measures for those who have been vaccinated and organizing lucky draws with the business sector as a reward. However, Hong Kong residents tend to be better motivated by health concerns rather than money, and the population’s general vaccine hesitancy calls for solutions that address underlying reasons for hesitancy rather than merely offering incentives.

 

The “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong” initiative funded by the Hong Kong Baptist University aims to immediately share the incremental findings of up-to-date research on vaccine hesitancy to help the authorities formulate more effective communication tactics promoting vaccination. It will support relevant research, and also encourage the university’s faculty and students to be aware of public health challenges and to contribute their knowledge and skills to seeking potential solutions.

 

 

Prompt research-informed changes in government policy and vaccination arrangements are a must to combat such a highly-infectious and fast-mutating virus. Researchers are invited to share their findings and insights as their research progresses so that decision-makers can be supplied with the latest information and transform scholarly work into real positive social change. This initiative therefore intends to facilitate the formulation of more targeted and precise interventions and policies. It should facilitate in-depth cross-sector collaboration among the government, the private sector, and society at large. It is such deliberative cooperation among a diversity of stakeholders with varied strengths which can best build public trust in vaccines.

 

This initiative intends to help socially or economically vulnerable communities by meaningfully engaging with them to understand barriers to vaccination, and disseminating effective, comprehensive vaccine education and campaigns.

Another major objective is to help socially or economically vulnerable communities by meaningfully engaging with them to understand barriers to vaccination, and disseminating effective, comprehensive vaccine education and campaigns. To ensure policy translates into practice, the recognition of population diversity is key to developing tailored approaches to encourage uptake and rebuild trust. In the context of COVID-19, with all its uncertainties, different segments of population need to be reassured and feel that their concerns are attended to.

 

In that effort we seek to develop local and international partnerships that will establish the HKBU as a leader in interdisciplinary engagement with the challenge of vaccine hesitancy. Apart from potential contributions to real-world vaccine campaigns, we also intend to make theoretical advances in this initiative. Extending the theme of overcoming vaccine hesitancy in Hong Kong, we will strive to develop new analytical approaches and lines of research applicable anywhere. Such research output would of course be extremely valuable.

 

With the resources of six interdisciplinary laboratories at the HKBU we intend to draw on big data analytics, communication, Artificial Intelligence, policy, economics and other areas to support an interdisciplinary analysis of the interconnected factors underlying vaccine hesitancy. From there we should be able to suggest effective and comprehensive solutions. The School of Communication and the Department of Computer Science will lead and coordinate this effort. The latest Research Assessment Exercise affirms the HKBU’s world-leading research position in both areas. HKBU is the top performer in quality of media and communication research. Digital publication of interim research reports will make any findings immediately accessible. In addition to research reports, we will also establish a visual dashboard with up-to-date information about local infections and vaccination progress. We believe this effort will facilitate a coordinated response that not only improves the effectiveness of the battle against vaccine hesitancy, but also helps restore trust and a sense of common purpose in our response to the pandemic.

 

1 Hong Kong Government. https://www.covidvaccine.gov.hk/zh-HK/

 

Daily vaccine dose forecasting using Facebook Prophet

 prediction image

 

Black points: reported number; blue line: predicted curve with 95% CI

 

 

Vaccine Hesitancy Study Reports

 

Reporting Public Opinion Polls—Part 4

 

Initiated by Hong Kong Baptist University’s “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong”(OVH) research project, a rolling telephone survey of Hong Kong people’s attitudes and opinions towards vaccination and other relevant topics is being conducted in six consecutive weeks from July 2021 to August 2021, on a random sampling basis. With the survey data at different time intervals, we hope to provide insights for the Government and other stakeholders’ strategic decision-making.

 

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Towards Automatic COVID-19 Vaccination Stance Detection in Hong Kong: A Deep Learning-Based Approach

 

Initiated by the “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong” project, this research studies the public stance towards COVID-19 vaccination using data from different online social platforms in Hong Kong. Specifically, with the social platform data we collected and labelled, our research proposed an approach to automatic COVID-19 vaccination stance detection in messages from online social platforms with deep learning techniques. Our experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in the COVID-19 vaccination stance detection. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first to study the problem of automatic COVID-19 stance detection in the language context of Cantonese.

 

We believe that our research can help the policy makers make better use of the online social platform data to estimate and understand the real-time trend of the public stance towards vaccination, and then formulate relevant policies to overcome vaccine hesitancy in Hong Kong. The arduous race to increase vaccine uptake could benefit from such understanding. Compared with the traditional methods like surveys and polls, our approach has the advantages of real-time, multiple information sources, and lower cost.

 

Our study might shed some light on the academia–government cooperation framework of response to the pandemic, which could better understand the public stance towards relevant events using online big data on different social platforms. In future, in case of an epidemic, this framework can provide guidance to mobilise resources, facilitate efficient collaboration among government, academia and community, and inform policy makers to encourage people to take actions against the epidemic, for example, getting vaccinated.

 

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Analyses of Public Stance towards COVID-19 Vaccination in Hong Kong on Online Social Platforms

 

Initiated by the “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong” project, we studied the public stance towards COVID-19 vaccination using the data from online social platforms. The aim is to understand vaccine hesitancy in Hong Kong. By analysing the data from several perspectives, we observed that the proportion of comments posted on social platforms which promote COVID-19 vaccination has been growing over time. This may reflect that people gradually learn about the effectiveness of the vaccination. Our study helps the public understand the stance of the online social community towards the overall vaccination as well as specific vaccines. In addition, our investigation can be beneficial to the policy makers to evaluate how the policies had affected the public stance, and, accordingly, to make further arrangements to mobilise resources to increase the vaccine uptake.

 

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Design Effective Vaccine Communication Messages Using Audience Segmentation

 

Since different audience groups have different communication needs, a communication campaign cannot successfully appeal to all people in the same way. Research on campaign effectiveness shows that audience segmentation is essential in campaign and intervention design (Maibach et.al., 2006; Slater, 1996). Audience segmentation is the process of dividing a large heterogeneous population into groups of individuals who share similar characteristics and react similarly to communication effort (Lee & Kotler, 2019; Smith, 2017). Therefore, analysing differences in communication needs across audience subgroups can help policymakers and campaign planners design and deliver more tailored persuasive messages for stronger connections with different groups of target audience.

 

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Understanding the Social Determinants of Vaccine Acceptance and Hesitancy: Evidence from Hong Kong

 

This study examines the role of social determinants in contributing to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Hong Kong, where COVID incidence and trust in the Government were both low. An online survey was conducted to examine Hong Kong people’s subjective evaluation of the vaccine, threat perception, interpersonal influence and institutional trust which contribute to explaining vaccination decisions. The findings point to the importance of social influence and a more nuanced conception of trust in contributing to the decision to be vaccinated.

 

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An Observational Study to Understand Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong Using Heterogeneous Data

 

The low vaccination rate illustrates the existence of vaccine hesitancy in society. According to the government statistics, by the end of August 7, the percentage of fully-vaccinated people in Hong Kong was around 40%, which is far from reaching the minimum threshold for herd immunity. Unlike the situation in underdeveloped areas, the vaccination rate in Hong Kong depends more on the public willingness rather than the vaccine supply capacity. This also demonstrates that vaccine hesitancy needs to be understood in specific contexts. The public’s enthusiasm for vaccination has many considerations, such as the safety of vaccines, the necessity of vaccination, and the government’s epidemic prevention policies. There is no doubt that the public’s attitude towards vaccines is affected by all kinds of information related to the pandemic and vaccine, especially in the digital era of the information explosion. This study uses vaccine dose as the indicator of vaccine hesitancy and explores the relevant factors affecting public vaccination behaviour based on data from multiple sources.

 

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Confidence in Vaccination, Evaluation of Anti-epidemic Efforts and Anticipation of Border Reopening Reporting Public Opinion Polls—Part 3

 

Initiated by Hong Kong Baptist University’s “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong” (OVH) research project, a rolling telephone survey of Hong Kong people’s attitudes and opinions towards vaccination and other relevant topics is being conducted in six consecutive weeks from July 2021 to August 2021, on a random sampling basis.

 

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COVID-19, Vaccines and Related “Fake News” An Overview of Misinformation Debunked by Hong Kong Fact-checking Organisations

 

When we make an important decision, our judgements and behaviours are influenced by the information we are exposed to. To get vaccinated or not is also the case. Negative misinformation may cause lower vaccination rates in a community (Carrieri et al, 2019).

 

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COVID-19 Vaccine and Hong Kong Citizens’ Lives Reporting Public Opinion Polls—Part 2

 

Initiated by Hong Kong Baptist University’s “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong” (OVH) research project, a rolling telephone survey of Hong Kong people’s attitudes and opinions towards vaccination and other relevant topics is being conducted in six consecutive weeks from July 2021 to August 2021, on a random sampling basis. With the survey data at different time intervals, we hope to provide insights for the Government and other stakeholders’ strategic decision-making.

 

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Parents’ Intention to Have Their Children Aged 2-11 Vaccinated and Its Influencing Factors

 

Promoting the COVID-19 vaccination programme for youth and children is one of the keys to achieve herd immunity soon. According to the World Bank data (2021), about 12.67% of the population in Hong Kong are aged 0–14. Although children are less likely to develop severe illness after contracting COVID-19 than adults, the harm to children’s health from the sequelae and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) caused by the infection cannot be ignored (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).

 

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The COVID-19 Vaccination Intention and Confidence in Hong Kong Reporting Public Opinion Polls—Part 1

 

Initiated by HKBU’s “Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong” (OVH) research project, a rolling telephone survey of Hong Kong people’s attitudes and opinions towards vaccination and other relevant topics is being conducted in six consecutive weeks from July 2021 to August 2021, on a random sampling basis. With the survey data at different time points, we hope to provide insights for the Government and other stakeholders on how to make strategic decisions.

 

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Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong

 

Dr Stephanie Jean Tsang, Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, conducted an online survey of 1,654 Hong Kong citizens aged 18 or above between 22 June 2021 and 30 June 2021. The survey was designed to gather information on the respondents’ intention to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, their perceptions regarding misinformation (“fake news”) during the pandemic, and, in particular, the reasons for vaccine hesitancy. A quota sampling method was used to select participants based on gender and age. The following is a summary of the basic demographic information of the respondents

 

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COVID-19 Vaccination Misinformation and the Clarification by the Public Sectors in Hong Kong 2

 

Vaccine hesitancy is described as an individuals’ intention to delay or refuse vaccination despite the availability of vaccine services (Abdulmoneim et al., 2021; Butler & MacDonald, 2015). Among many communication factors influencing vaccine hesitancy, exposure to misinformation about COVID-19 could reduce the public’s intention to be vaccinated (Daly & Robinson, 2020; Roozenbeek et al., 2020). Debunking rumours and clarifying misinformation are thus playing an important role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy. An informed citizenry and an accountable and reliable public health system are crucial.

 

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COVID-19 Vaccination Misinformation and the Clarification by the Public Sectors in Hong Kong

 

Vaccine hesitancy is described as an individuals’ intention to delay or refuse vaccination despite the availability of vaccine services (Abdulmoneim et al., 2021; Butler & MacDonald, 2015). Among many communication factors influencing vaccine hesitancy, exposure to misinformation about COVID-19 could reduce the public’s intention to be vaccinated (Daly, 2020; Roozenbeek et al., 2020). Debunking rumours and clarifying misinformation are thus playing an important role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy. An informed citizenry and an accountable and reliable public health system are crucial.

 

Read More

Using Survey Experiments to Understand Vaccine Choice and Vaccination Time Preference

 

Although Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world where WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine is free and available to the majority of its population, the city’s vaccination scheme is still facing a slow uptake. The scheme began in February and many businesses in Hong Kong are now offering a slew of incentives and prize draws ranging from cash, staycation packages, cruise vacations, gold bars, cars, watches and even an opportunity to win an apartment worth HK$10M to vaccinated residents. Yet, many citizens are still hesitant to get the jab.

 

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Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy in Hong Kong: Where to Start?

 

Since the first vaccine, smallpox vaccine, in history, it is never easy for everyone to accept a new vaccine and get vaccinated. Vaccine hesitancy is described as individuals’ intention to delay or refuse vaccination despite the availability of vaccine services (Butler & MacDonald, 2015). This is exactly what Hong Kong is currently facing. Since the official launch of the COVID-19 vaccination program in February 2021, only 21.4% of Hong Kong’s population had received both doses of the vaccine as of 30 June 2021. Such a vaccination rate is far lower than its counterparts in other countries (e.g., 46.8% in the United States, 48.9% in the United Kingdom, and 36.1% in Singapore), and it will be a long shot to achieve the globally-recognized threshold for herd immunity.

 

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News and Opinions

HKUST takes ‘Controversial' action to fight virus threat

2021-08-10

In an email sent yesterday, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) said people who visited the Clear Water Bay campus regularly, such as students, staff, and university residents, including their family members and domestic helpers, and even frequent visitors and contractors, would have to get a jab or be tested every two weeks to obtain an Electronic Campus Access Pass starting from September. Only children under the age of 12 are exempt.

'Mind boggling' data about the unvaccinated and Covid-19

2021-08-02

CNN's Harry Enten looks at the data around the Covid-19 vaccine that shows that you have a 25 times greater chance of dying from Covid-19 if you are unvaccinated and that those who are vaccinated have more than a 99% chance of surviving a infection.

U.S. CDC: Breakthrough Infections with No Symptoms Prove Vaccines Work

2021-07-09

People who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 should continue to feel very protected against serious disease, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with CNN on July 9.