Diversity Impact on Vaccine Equity in Sri Lanka

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This publication was produced by MRG’s partner(s) with MRG. It remains the property of the organization(s) in question and does not necessarily reflect the views of MRG.

Covid-19 has shed light on ongoing disparities in vaccine access and confidence among different ethnic groups worldwide. Verité Research conducted a study to analyze social media content shared on Covid-19 vaccine confidence, uptake, and access among three ethnic groups in Sri Lanka—Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. This study was financially supported by Minority Rights Group International. The purpose of the study was to identify how social media can be used to understand the degree of vaccine confidence and uptake among different ethnic groups, and their access to vaccines.

The study highlights five key findings:

  1. Most online conversations on Covid-19 vaccination across the sample of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim social media users related to confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine. However, there were varying degrees of concern among these ethnic groups in relation to their confidence in vaccines;
  2. Ethnicity was a statistically significant factor affecting the degree of Covid-19 vaccine confidence in Sri Lanka. Muslim (75 per cent) and Tamil (67 per cent) social media users were more likely to have low confidence or no confidence in Covid-19 vaccines in comparison to Sinhala (58 per cent) social media users in the sample;
  3. From among the reasons for low vaccine confidence, vaccine safety was the main concern that emerged from online conversations monitored on the Covid-19 vaccine;
  4. Most concerns on vaccine safety emerged from Muslim social media users (46 per cent); and
  5. Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim social media users showed a higher degree of confidence in the Pfizer-BioNTech and/or Moderna vaccines than in the Sinopharm vaccine.

The findings of this study are specific to the social media monitoring that Verité Research conducted on Facebook and Twitter from 1 January 2021 to 31 October 2021. Verité Research analysed a sample of 1,276 Facebook comments and tweets (including replies to tweets) with respect to the sentiment expressed on:

  1. Covid-19 vaccine confidence;
  2. Reservations towards vaccines;
  3. Access to vaccines; and
  4. Distrust in health and/or other government authorities to administer vaccines and distrust in the vaccine-related information disseminated by these actors.

This Bulletin was published in the context of MRG’s Diversity: Impact on Vaccine Equality (DIVE) programme (2021-2022).

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