Direct Relief, in collaboration with Facebook and the University of Maryland, has launched a map tracking vaccine acceptance rates in communities across the globe.
“The reason why we’re interested in vaccine acceptance is that in order for vaccination to work as a response, you have to vaccinate enough people in order to reach what’s called herd immunity,” explained Andrew Schroeder, Direct Relief’s head of research and analysis.
Achieving herd immunity against Covid-19 will require immunizing 60-90% of the population, according to revised estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci. Currently, the map shows an average global acceptance rate of 74%, though there are stark differences between regions.
In the race to end the pandemic, Schroeder says the map helps answer a critical question: Which places are most at risk of not reaching herd immunity?
“You can’t just assume that 100% of the population is going to accept vaccination,” said Schroeder. In these places, non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as mask wearing and social distancing, may be more important long-term.
The map uses data collected by the University of Maryland through a global Facebook survey asking users whether they would accept a Covid-19 vaccine if one were offered to them. Respondents are randomly selected and only regions in which a significant number of responses are submitted have been represented. Over a half a million responses are collected daily.
The dashboard displays average acceptance rates for both countries and regions, as well as fluctuations in acceptance rates over time. Knowing how these rates change can be helpful for public health officials mounting vaccination campaigns. For example, said Schroeder, “How many people are still left and of the people are that are left, are you facing an increasing headwind in terms of the likelihood that people will accept a vaccination?”
For individuals, the map may provide valuable information about their own health risk. “Knowing whether you’re in an area of high vaccine acceptance or low vaccine acceptance is a useful decision point,” said Schroeder. If vaccination rates are high, that means more people are immune and the virus has less opportunities to spread. “The way in which you’re protected is if other people are protecting themselves,” explained Schroder. “Interdependency is at the core of stopping this pandemic.”
The map will be updated continuously as new data becomes available.