Are workers in Papua New Guinea willing to take COVID-19 vaccine?

There is a broad agreement among public health experts that widespread vaccination coverage is the best way to end any pandemic. Yet, since the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide in December 2019, only 1.2 percent of people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) as at October 2021 had been fully vaccinated.

In order to help improve vaccination rates, business houses in PNG began to actively encourage vaccination rollout in the workplace. As “no jab, no job” has become the hallmark of many a PNG employers’ whip to enforce COVID-19 vaccine policy in the workplace, their workers were under pressure to choose between getting vaccinated and continue to work or lose their jobs if not vaccinated.

In the PNG NRI Discussion Paper No. 194: Estimating willingness to take covid-19 vaccine among wholesale and retail service workers in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, authors Francis Odhuno, Dianah Ngui and Joseph Muniu analyse survey data collected in October/November 2021. They found that some wholesale and retail workforce had decided not to get vaccinated even if they were to lose their jobs.

Access to sufficient information, level of education, threat of COVID-19 infection, level of income, underlying medical conditions, and the places where the employees live and work were some of the key factors influencing workers’ willingness to get vaccinated.

As social media has become a platform used for untrusted messages transmitted to the general public, the authors conclude that public awareness campaigns, ensure the right information on COVID-19 vaccines is passed to the public long before the vaccines are made available are key to increasing vaccination rates in PNG. The Government can partner with trusted institutions like the churches to spearhead such awareness campaigns.

The Publication can be accessed on the PNG NRI website https://www.pngnri.org.

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Authorised for release by:

 Dr. Osborne Sanida

PNG NRI Director

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