'God protects us from death through faith and science': a qualitative study on the role of faith leaders in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and in building COVID-19 vaccine trust in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Yibeltal K, Workneh F, Melesse H, Wolde H, Kidane WT, Berhane Y, Herzig van Wees S

BMJ Open 14 (4) e071566 [2024-04-22; online 2024-04-22]

This study explored faith leaders' perspectives on the COVID-19 vaccine and their role in building COVID-19 vaccine trust in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A qualitative study with in-depth interviews and thematic analysis was conducted. Twenty-one faith leaders from the seven religious groups represented in the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia participated in the study. The study was conducted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The thematic analysis revealed three themes. First, faith leaders were aware of the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, although most ascribed a spiritual meaning to the advent of the pandemic. The pandemic seriously affected the faith communities, inflicting financial losses. Second, faith leaders were essential allies during the pandemic by effectively collaborating with government and health professionals in COVID-19 prevention activities and public health interventions using spiritual reasoning. They were actively informing the community about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, where many faith leaders were publicly vaccinated to build trust in the vaccine and act as role models. Third, despite this, they faced multiple questions from the congregation about the vaccine, including rumours. This research showed that faith leaders played crucial roles in encouraging vaccine use but were limited in their persuasion power because of intense rumours and misinformation. Empowering faith leaders with the latest vaccine evidence needs to be prioritised in the future.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Category: Vaccines

Funder: Forte

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38653509

DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-071566

Crossref 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-071566

pmc: PMC11043698
pii: bmjopen-2023-071566

Publications 9.5.0