Restoring Public Confidence In Vaccines Requires ‘Open, Participatory’ Approach

Devex: Opinion: It’s time to rebuild public confidence in vaccines
Heidi Larson, professor and director of the Vaccine Confidence Project in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and clinical professor at the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington

“The announcement by Facebook that it will no longer allow anti-vaccine advertisements on its platform is welcome as measles cases surge in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and double in Europe. But this measure alone is not enough to address the growing global spread of ‘vaccine hesitancy’ and rising rates of disease and death caused by undervaccination. … [T]he answer to combating today’s currents of vaccine dissent is far more complex than addressing the needed technical fixes and must be part of a wider effort involving multiple partners, including citizens. … If we are to change the conversation and start to reverse the negative trend in public trust in vaccination, the first step is actively listening to people’s concerns. … We need to start by being open to discussion and making information available in a language and context relevant to those we are communicating with. … We also need to get much smarter about social media engagement. … This demands a greater collaborative effort, bringing together public health professionals, technology experts, and some members of the public to sit around a table, with the best information available, conveyed sensitively, through honest, not manipulated media. This open and participatory approach is the only way forward in this matter of life and death” (4/3).