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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

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01 July 2021

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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FWRM PR: Rapid Assessment on Fijian Women’s Perceptions of COVID-19 Vaccine finds that 51.5% of respondents considered herbal & traditional medicine if they developed any COVID-19 symptoms 1/07/2021

01/07/2021

Press Release:

FWRM Rapid Assessment on Fijian Women’s Perceptions of COVID-19 Vaccine finds that 51.5% of respondents considered taking herbal & traditional medicine if they developed any COVID-19 symptoms

 Fiji is seeing a worrying rise in COVID-19 cases with a total of 4418 cases since the first case was reported in March 2020 as reported by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services yesterday. It is even more concerning that the national 7- day average daily test positivity is 8.9% and is being projected to have an upward trend.

Whilst the Government has put forward advisories on safety measures during the pandemic and through the administering of the COVID-19 vaccine, it has become imperative that we address the perceptions of people relating to the vaccine. This would enable us to collectively work together in containing the virus.

In June, 2021, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement conducted a Rapid Assessment on Fijian Women’s Perceptions of the COVID-19 Vaccine, supported by the Australian Government through the We Rise Coalition in partnership with Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development.

This Assessment was carried out to understand the perceptions of the Fijian women in relation to the COVID-19 vaccination as there is a lack of sex disaggregated data available on recipients of the vaccine.

“We are in an unprecedented health crisis and vaccination is a critical tool in helping to curb the number of deaths from COVID-19 and the associated risks but there are barriers to ensuring the wide impact of the rollout and this includes gender, level of education, economic welfare, family influences, access to information and services and more, thus the urgency for a survey that gauges perceptions of women who are often marginalised and vulnerable to all these barriers,  ” FWRM Executive Director, Nalini Singh said.

One of the key findings of the Assessment is that 42.3 percent of the Respondents had a mixture of negative and positive feelings about the vaccine and 10.6 percent were completely negative about taking the vaccine.

Whilst more than half of respondents of the Assessment  were determined to get vaccinated, the research found that 51.5 percent of respondents considered taking herbal and traditional medicine if they developed any COVID-19 symptoms.

The Assessment found that 58.4 percent of the Respondents had received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and this correlated with the 83.7 percent of the Respondents being positive about vaccines in general. Further, 53.4 percent of Respondents who had received their first dose were keen to get the second dose once the opportunity was available.

The Assessment highlighted that education and income levels as significant factors in influencing the Fijian women’s perceptions and uptake of the vaccine.

“A total of 61 percent of respondents held an undergraduate degree and 23% a postgraduate qualification. Less than 15 percent held qualifications lower than a degree. This means that many of the respondents were literate and likely to be more informed about the vaccine influencing their decision to get vaccinated, “ Ms Singh said.

The health seeking behaviour of Fijian women was also analysed and the Assessment found that 69 percent of the respondents did not see herbal and traditional medicine as being a better substitute of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is extremely concerning that the Fijian women's perceptions around the COVID-19 vaccine is ranging from mixed to negative. This needs to be urgently addressed through collaborative approaches taking into consideration the health seeking behaviour of women,” Ms Singh said.

The Assessment also includes recommendations particularly on a communications strategy that factors social and cultural nuances to influence greater behavioural change, together with the provision of sex disaggregated data by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services on recipients of the vaccine.

A total of 574 women from around the country participated in the online survey to gauge their perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Rapid Assessment: Fijian Women’s Perceptions on COVID 19 Vaccines is available on the FWRM website here: http://www.fwrm.org.fj/images/Final_-_FWRM_Rapid_Assmt_WomenandCOVID19Vaccines.pdf

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