New study highlights key role of social media in uptake of COVID-19 vaccine for migrants
Berlin — Governments could close the COVID-19 vaccination gap by removing language barriers and giving migrants easier access to information, especially via social media, according to a to study published today by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the University of Potsdam.
Studies from several countries in the United States and Europe, including Germany, suggest that vaccination rates are lower among migrant communities compared to the general population. The gaps can vary by country and group, but a recent study by the Robert Koch Institute in Germany found that vaccination rates among migrants are 8% lower than among the native-born population. The study argues that these immunization gaps may be linked to language barriers, socioeconomic status and misinformation among migrant communities.
IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Center (GMDAC) and the University of Potsdam tested the effect of language and trust barriers in Germany via a social media campaign in their study, “Promoting uptake of COVID-19 vaccination among migrant communities on Social Media – Evidence from Germany”.
“More evidence on the interrelationship between migration and health is urgently needed,” said GMDAC director Frank Laczko. “Many countries around the world have large migrant populations, but many of them do not sufficiently take into account the needs of migrants in their vaccination programs.”
Expensive national campaigns to boost immunization through print, television and radio often overlook social media. The results of the study show how specific groups can be reached more efficiently and at lower cost.
“Social media is where misinformation spreads and it’s important that official public health messages are visible online and reach communities that aren’t typically exposed to mainstream media, print media or campaigns. television,” said Esther Haarmann, GMDAC’s digital communications manager and co-author of the study.
Local authorities often lack the resources to provide translations. The results highlight the number of migrants who are left behind by not translating outreach materials. Social media ads in migrants’ native language significantly increased interest in COVID-19 vaccination appointments, especially for newly arrived migrants (by 133% for Arabic speakers, by 76 % for Russian speakers and 15% for Turkish speakers).
Extrapolating the translation effect to all government outreach activities targeting migrants could have the potential to increase vaccination rates among migrants by an average of 14 percentage points. This improvement would likely close vaccination gaps between migrant groups and the general population in Germany – and other countries.
The results also revealed that advertising content showing a government official was more effective in increasing interest in COVID-19 vaccination appointments than other messengers such as religious leaders, families or friends. physicians, especially among recent immigrant groups in Germany (Arabs in this study).
“The findings highlight the potential of local government authorities to reach out to migrants – a population often seen as having higher levels of mistrust towards institutions,” says Jasper Tjaden, a professor at the University of Potsdam and lead author of the report. ‘study.
Dr Nicolai Savaskan, director of the Berlin-Neukölln district health department, said local health services benefit from evidence-based advice on how best to reach diverse communities.
“In-person outreach is the gold standard, but we can’t reach everyone that way,” Dr. Savaskan said. “New evidence shows that online campaigns can fill the void and are increasingly an important instrument in official health communication.”
Although the study focused on Germany, the methodology is adaptable to other countries to improve awareness and support equitable access to health services, including for refugees, asylum seekers, migrants irregular situation and hard-to-reach populations.
Download the study here.