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SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Hesitancy and Acceptance Among Medical Students in Helmand, Afghanistan

Abdul Tawab Khpalwak, Abdul Rahman Arian, Ali Ahmad

Bost University (Afghanistan), Helmand University (Afghanistan)




Background/Objective: This study aimed to identify COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among medical students in Helmand, Afghanistan, and its contributing factors. The findings will be presented to key healthcare organizations for peer review and used to develop a regional Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) strategy to increase national vaccine acceptance among medical students. Methods: This study employed a structured approach consisting of three steps. First, a paper-based Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice (KAP) questionnaire was developed and tested for efficacy and understanding. Second, using Yamane's formula to determine the appropriate sample size, a population-based stratified sampling method was employed to select 200 respondents from 937 medical students in 21 classes. Results: A survey conducted in February 2022 revealed a high percentage (38.6%, or 56 out of 145) of medical students hesitant to receive SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in Helmand, Afghanistan. Factors contributing to this hesitancy include a lack of information about COVID-19 vaccination, doubts about its adverse effects, and fear of long-term sequelae associated with immunization. Conclusion: The results of this study provide valuable insights for professors, policymakers, and health organizations to address factors contributing to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among medical students. Approaches such as RCCE campaigns, public awareness initiatives, and incorporating a dedicated vaccination chapter into the medical curriculum can minimize hesitancy and increase vaccine acceptance. Addressing vaccine hesitancy is crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of medical students at higher risk due to their proximity to infected populations.



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