A handbook aimed at fighting COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the Philippines using behavioral science has been launched today by Save the Children, in partnership with the Busara Center for Behavioural Economics and Common Thread.
With more than 55,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, the Philippines has seen many routine immunisation programmes suspended in an effort to mitigate the pandemic—leaving millions of children at risk of deadly infectious diseases.
To address this, the ‘Little Jab Book Philippines’ uses local insights to help aid health workers, government authorities, and non-government organisations increase COVID-19 vaccination uptake.
In-depth interviews with parents and a survey of more than 600 people in Malabon City in Metro Manila, and Sarangani Province in southern Mindanao revealed that not trusting COVID-19 vaccines, underestimating the severity of the virus, long wait times, and uncertainty around vaccine availability were the four main obstacles to getting vaccinated among those surveyed.
The ‘Little Jab Book Philippines’ provides practical and adaptable solutions to increase vaccine uptake, which include young people taking an active role to help dispel vaccine-related ‘fake news’ among peers, running ad campaigns with positive testimonials of those who have been vaccinated, and making vaccine registration as easy as possible.
Save the Children’s CEO in the Philippines, Albert Muyot, said:
“We know that ensuring more than 80% of the population gets vaccinated is one of the best measures to protect Filipinos from the ongoing pandemic. Trust in vaccination will also help ensure that vulnerable children get their protection from COVID-19 and other deadly vaccine-preventable diseases.”
“But an increased supply of COVID-19 vaccines hasn’t necessarily translated into more jabs in arms. In fact, our research shows that particular barriers in the Philippines stop many from getting their COVID-19 vaccine, even if they know it’s the best tool in fighting the virus. That’s where the ‘Little Jab Book’ comes in—providing concrete and practical solutions to getting as many Filipinos vaccinated as possible, so that our health services can get back to delivering other life-saving services interrupted by the pandemic—including routine child immunisations.”
Allison Zelkowitz, Director of Save the Children’s Centre for Utilising Behavioural Insights for Children (CUBIC), said:
“COVID-19 has strained health services and devastated economies around the world, and has had far-reaching impacts, including on life-saving child immunisation programmes.
“With vaccines now more widely available, we need to identify and understand what stops people from getting vaccinated and engage with that in a practical way. If we don’t understand why they’re hesitant—whether that’s because of inconvenience, specific doubts, or a lack of important endorsements—the vaccines may not reach enough people. If uptake isn’t as good as it needs to be, children and families will continue to suffer.
“We need to support effective roll out campaigns, and the ‘Little Jab Book Philippines’— with its invaluable insights rooted in behavioural science—is an essential tool in making this happen.”
Aimed at low- and middle-income countries, the global version of the ‘Little Jab Book’ was first published in 2021 and has led to the development of several country-specific versions—with Nepal and Kenya due to launch their own practical guides soon.
The U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC)’s own COVID-19 vaccine uptake handbook also drew inspiration from this global initiative, showing the global potential of these practical strategies.
The Centre for Utilising Behavioural Insights for Children (CUBIC) is supported by Save the Children’s Global Centre for Excellence (CoE) in Innovation. The CoE supports innovators in overcoming barriers to scaling their projects by providing capacity building and funding support.