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Why demand generation is essential to successful vaccine rollout

Author: Tegan Joseph Mosugu, Communications Manager Consultant, VillageReach

In order to improve COVID-19 vaccination, VillageReach partnered with the government to open a vaccinodrome/vaccination site in Yopougon, Abidjan. This site was selected in an area with a large Christian population that traditionally had low demand, low-income levels, and a significant distrust in the government. When the site opened, demand was still a challenge; as a result, we had to prioritize our focus and be intentional in our outreach in order to improve the low throughput early on.

As site operators, our “sphere of influence” is narrow. We focused not on general COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, but rather targeted strategies to get people to the vaccinodrome/vaccination site in Yopougon. We did not have a lot of resources for demand generation, so we had to be nimble and strategic in our approach.

Together with the district health department of Yopougon, we created a demand-generation strategy that targeted individuals in Youpogon in the ‘moveable middle’ – those who are likely to get vaccinated when convinced – and vaccine enthusiasts along the vaccine continuum by creating four key strategies that improved access to vaccines and provided the necessary information for individuals to make informed decisions taking the vaccine.

Strategy 1: Leveraging trusted voices to improve COVID-19 vaccination uptake.

To increase vaccine uptake, we leveraged trusted voices such as religious leaders and vaccinodrome clients. We encouraged these individuals to share their positive experiences of vaccination with friends and family. Our hope was that these individuals would be able to nudge their family, friends, and community members to get vaccinated.

Strategy 2: Building confidence in the safety of the vaccines

In our work, we have found a dire need to address safety concerns, dispel rumors, and address any misinformation that may exist. Through our community outreach efforts, we were able to answer questions and concerns that people had about the vaccine. 

Strategy 3: Establishing accessibility with vaccines 

Vaccines have to be accessible to people, and that is why our demand generation efforts emphasize the need to set appointment blocks at a time that works for people in Yopougon and meet them where they are at through outreach campaigns. In our initial work, we realized that the times that we had outlined for people in Abidjan were not actually working. Therefore, we expanded the hours of operation in order to scale up our outreach to members of the community. We also implemented vaccine outreach events, where together with the district health department, we provided vaccines in the community coupled with sensitization efforts.

Strategy 4: Building awareness about when and how to get vaccinated

We have built awareness of how and where to get vaccinated through radio spots as well as digital marketing. These efforts are in constant circulation to remind people about the ease and importance of getting vaccinated.

Continuous learning from generated evidence

To continue to improve, strengthen and understand the outcomes of these demand strategies, we are partnering  with FHI 360. To do this, they are taking a four-step approach:

  • Identifying and prioritizing gaps in demand using service delivery data.
  • Conducting rapid discovery activities through surveys, interviews, and observation to understand barriers to vaccination services, as well as misconceptions, myths, perceptions. 
  • Develop and/or tailor existing strategies/activities alongside partners and audiences, then test them rapidly to know which have the greatest impact.
  • Finally, for the most impactful strategies/activities, they ensure integrated to service delivery and demand generation activities, while data is concurrently monitored.

Our work in Côte d’Ivoire requires us to be ready to adapt. We are still early on in this process and will continue to change and respond to the current demand challenges of the neighborhood and by applying FHI 360’s approach. Moreover, we will be gathering feedback on these strategies through service delivery data, exit surveys, and intercept surveys in order to know what is working and what needs to be improved. 

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