The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) has launched a new qualification designed to give the public health workforce — including pharmacy teams — the skills required to meet the challenges posed by vaccine hesitancy.

The level two qualification in ‘encouraging vaccination uptake’ consists of building on participants’ understanding of the importance of vaccination programmes and educating them on the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy.

It also teaches students behaviour change methods and motivational techniques to support and encourage individuals in deciding to receive a vaccination, the body said.

The qualification consists of eight learning hours to complete over a single day or two half-day sessions, a spokesperson told the Pharmacist.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data – published in May – found that vaccine hesitancy has remained ‘relatively stable’ – 7% between 31 March and 25 April 2021, compared with 6% in the previous period (17 February to 14 March) – and a decrease from 9% in January.

It also found around one in three (30%) Black or Black British adults and around one in eight (12%) of adults in the most deprived areas of England were vaccine hesitant.

Other research has suggested vaccine hesitancy is decreasing, with a survey carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Vaccine Confidence Project finding that 63% of unvaccinated people aged 18-44 would get the jab, up from 41% in October.

Christina Marriott, chief executive of RSPH, said that the new qualification will ‘support individuals across communities and workplaces to not only support the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme but also to develop skills and knowledge that can be used to support conversations around the uptake of other vaccinations, such as the annual flu vaccine.’

Of those who have already undertaken the qualification, 100% say that their ‘understanding of vaccination programmes improved’, according to the RSPH.

The organisation also said that 100% of participants now feel they know ‘a lot’ about the sources of vaccine concern and vaccine hesitancy, compared to 15% before sitting the course.