Social determinants of health and vaccine uptake during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review

Prev Med Rep. 2023 Jul 16:35:102319. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2023.102319. eCollection 2023 Oct.


Social determinants of health significantly impact population health status. The aim of this systematic review was to examine which social vulnerability factors or determinants of health at the individual or county level affected vaccine uptake within the first phase of the vaccination program. We performed a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature published from January 2020 until September 2021 in Medline and Embase (Bagaria et al., 2022) and complemented the review with an assessment of pre-print literature within the same period. We restricted our criteria to studies performed in the EU/UK/EEA/US that report vaccine uptake in the general population as the primary outcome and included various social determinants of health as explanatory variables. This review provides evidence of significant associations between the early phases of vaccination uptake for SARS-CoV-2 and multiple socioeconomic factors including income, poverty, deprivation, race/ethnicity, education and health insurance. The identified associations should be taken into account to increase vaccine uptake in socially vulnerable groups, and to reduce disparities in uptake, in particular within the context of public health preparedness for future pandemics. While further corroboration is needed to explore the generalizability of these findings across the European setting, these results confirm the need to consider vulnerable groups and social determinants of health in the planning and roll-out of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination programs and within the context of future respiratory pandemics.

Keywords: COVID-19; Disparities; Health determinants; Pandemic; Public health; Vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review