Faith leaders must play key role in COVID-19 vaccine roll-out  

January 8th, 2021, A recent survey carried out by international aid agency, World Vision highlights the key role faith leaders and community health workers must play in global campaign to roll-out a COVID-19 vaccine.   

One year on from the World Health Organization first reporting an outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, new Barrier Analysis studies by World Vision are demonstrating just how important religious leaders’ endorsements of the COVID-19 vaccine will be to the next stage of efforts to contain and roll back the pandemic.  

“The COVID-19 vaccine brings a palpable sense of hope for struggling children and their families, whose lives have been torn apart by the aftershocks from this dreadful pandemic,” said Andrew Morley, World Vision International President and Chief Executive. 

“Education has been put on hold, health services strained to the breaking point, livelihoods ruined, with vulnerable children facing new threats of violence as those who protect them succumb to this terrible disease. 

“As we have seen time and again, faith leaders play a crucial role in vaccine rollout. They work with communities to involve them in the process, ensuring they are distributed fairly and fully accepted.”  

The aid agency carried out studies in selected rural communities in Bangladesh and found that 100% of those surveyed who intend to get a vaccine agreed with the statement: “Most of my community leaders and religious leaders would want me to get a COVID-19 vaccine.” By contrast only 38% of those who intend to refuse a vaccine (‘non-acceptors’) agreed with that statement. Vaccine ‘acceptors’ were also 7.1 times more likely (than non-acceptors) to say they would be very likely to get a vaccine if a health worker recommended it to them.  

The study also found that non-acceptors were almost 10 times more likely than acceptors to strongly agree with the statement: “Whether I get COVID-19 or not is purely a matter of God’s will or chance." They were also 6.8 times more likely to say they did not trust the COVID-19 vaccines at all and 11 times more likely to say they did not know if getting vaccinated would protect them.  

World Vision also carried out studies in Myanmar and found that the factors driving COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in communities there were similar in some aspects: ‘Acceptors’ were 3.7 times more likely to say that they would be very likely to get a vaccine if a health worker recommended it to them, and more likely to believe that most of their community and religious leaders will want them to get the vaccine (100% of acceptors vs. 80% of non-acceptors).  

These findings suggest that endorsement by religious leaders and community health workers is vital for community-level acceptance, the promotion of accurate health information, and to help to ensure high-level vaccination uptake. World Vision currently works with a network of more than 184,000 community health workers and has engaged with more than 210,000 faith leaders globally to combat the spread of the virus, especially at the grassroots level. 

“I met many faith leaders last year in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo involved in community acceptance of the Ebola vaccine, and it is clear their work saves countless lives,” says Morley.  

Studies conducted in India, Kenya, and Tanzania are currently analysing their results, which will be published at the end of the month. These findings will inform the focus of World Vision’s work in supporting vaccine roll-out and are being made available to the WHO, GAVI, and UNICEF. 

“We have extensive experience partnering with children, communities and leaders to implement vaccine solutions around the world,” said Morley. "We helped ensure more than 130,000 in four countries were vaccinated, using a two-dose regimen, against Ebola in the West Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo outbreaks, and have been heavily involved in Polio eradication efforts for more than 20 years.” 

This expertise includes Barrier Analysis surveys, developed by World Vision‘s Tom Davis, to assess reasons for resistance to health programmes.  

“While a vaccine represents a scientific triumph, no one can claim victory until it reaches the most vulnerable communities right across the globe,” says Morley. “We challenge the world to be fair in vaccine distribution. Protection from this virus should not be linked to economic power – it should be fair and equitable.” 

“COVID-19 vaccines will be a lifeline for vulnerable children all over the world, enabling them once again to reach their God-given potential – but only if they reach the vulnerable communities who need them most.” 


Note to editor    

For more information contact: 

Micah Branaman - Communications Technical Director, Global COVID-19 Response, World Vision -mobile: +1 469-286-5662 | email:

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.  For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision     

World Vision is committed to supporting the fair and equitable global roll-out of WHO endorsed vaccines and is partnering with governments, faith leaders, and community health workers in combatting the spread of COVID-19.Timeline:

World Vision has extensive experience partnering with children, communities and leaders to implement vaccine solutions around the world. The organisation, as a member of EBODAC, helped ensure more than 130,000 in four countries were vaccinated, using a two-dose regimen, against Ebola in the West Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo outbreaks, and has been heavily involved in Polio eradication efforts for more than 20 years.