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Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for an effective vaccine to combat the spread of the virus. However, less attention has been paid to vaccine hesitancy and acceptance, particularly among healthcare students in Africa. The study aimed to assess vaccine hesitancy and acceptance among clinical year students of a novel COVID-19 vaccine in Sierra Leone.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional online survey among 250 healthcare students at the University of Sierra Leone. Descriptive statistics and chi-square test were applied to analyse data.
Results: Our findings showed that 46 (18.4%) of the medical students and 6(2.4%) of pharmacy students doubted the COVID-19 vaccine's safety. 34(13.6%) of medical students questioned the effectiveness of the vaccine, while 25 (10%) of medical students, 53 (21.2%) of nursing students, and 4 (1.6%) of pharmacy students feared the side effects that were still unknown. 28 (11.2%) of the medical students, 7 (2.8%) of nursing students, and 21 (8.4%) of pharmacy students feared that some types of vaccine would have adverse effects on their health.
Discussion: The study found that a significant proportion of medical and pharmacy students expressed doubts about the safety, effectiveness, and side effects of the vaccine. A small proportion of the students also feared adverse effects of certain types of vaccines on their health. These findings suggest that there is a need for targeted education and communication campaigns to address the reasons for vaccine hesitancy among healthcare students