A1 Journal article (refereed)
Health literacy as a social vaccine in the COVID-19 pandemic (2022)

Okan, O., Messer, M., Levin-Zamir, D., Paakkari, L., & Sørensen, K. (2022). Health literacy as a social vaccine in the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Promotion International, Advance Article. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daab197

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Okan, Orkan; Messer, Melanie; Levin-Zamir, Diane; Paakkari, Leena; Sørensen, Kristine

Journal or series: Health Promotion International

ISSN: 0957-4824

eISSN: 1460-2245

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 12/01/2022

Volume: Advance Article

Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daab197

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8807235/


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel virus in the coronavirus family, causing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Biomedical vaccines are key but alongside biomedical vaccines, a social vaccine can be similarly useful to prevent infection from SARS-CoV-2, if applied as a health promotion strategy. In order to slow down and control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, applying the social vaccine concept should be considered in parallel. From a health promotion perspective, a social vaccine is a process of social and political mobilization driven by governmental and non-governmental organizations aiming at populations by applying interventions such as health communication, education and mass media campaigns as well as determinant-based programs to address environmental factors influencing personal behavior and community capacities to cope with and overcome the societal burdens of COVID-19. In this context, health literacy is significant, as seen in the role it plays in empowering citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and enabling them to deal with health information considering COVID-19. As a public health strategy, health literacy as a social vaccine will enable individuals and communities to mitigate the spread of the virus by understanding and applying information as provided through governments and health authorities. The aim of this article is to explore health literacy as a promising social vaccine and opportunity to utilize social vaccination and thus be considered as a key public health approach—both bottom-up and top-down—to support the combat of COVID-19 and future states of emergency.

Keywords: pandemics; COVID-19; health promotion; health education; health literacy

Free keywords: health literacy; social vaccine; COVID-19; infodemic; non-pharmaceutical intervention

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-24-03 at 18:34