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Jascha Wiehn

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  1. The authors conducted a systematic review of qualitative studies investigating parental perceptions and expectations regarding health communication efforts (context: vaccination). The authors concluded that “parents want clear, timely and balanced information, but that they often find this information to be lacking” (Ames & Glenton, 2017, p. 3). More details about the key findings etc. can be found in the insightful abstract. OPEN ACCESS
  2. In a two-stage approach, the authors developed a ‘Communicate to vaccinate’ taxonomy. This taxonomy may help health authorities to map their potential communication strategies to increase vaccination uptake within the population. The final tool summarizes promising communicational interventions to increase the overall vaccination coverage in a very practical way. OPEN ACCESS
  3. The overwhelming amount of scientists agree that vaccines work and save millions of lives around the world. One impressive examples of vaccines’ effectiveness could be seen in the eradication of smallpox during the late 70’s. Nevertheless, since the introduction of mass vaccination programmes, there has been a strong and viral anti-vaccination lobby, communicating mis- or uninformed information (e.g. the vaccination offers less safe immunity than natural infections). Using the advantages of online communication, such as relative cost-effectiveness, interaction with others, accessibility, fast and immediate information exchange, only to mention a few examples, small groups of anti-vaccinationists are capable of inducing uncertainty about vaccines’ safety and quality among caregivers. There’s no sense for public health institutions to try to convert those opponents of immunization. Rather the unsettled, so called “fence-sitters”, shall be targeted to accomplish high immunization rates (an estimated coverage of 95% is required to eliminate measles; “herd immunity”). But how can we reach the fence-sitters? What channels do they use? What content shall be communicated? How to design the message effectively? Sciences can provide the answers, uncertain parents may request, but science can be complex. This means, science has to find ways to communicate valuable data in an adequate way to those who are concerned. In this context, research has shown that evidence-based communicational strategies promise to be more effective. Therefore it is essential to use formative research of behavioural insights to understand parental barriers and motivators in vaccine acceptance and develop tailored messages. Besides the limitations and risks mentioned before, online media is a promising area for health communication interventions. Listening to parental worries about vaccination through surveillance of social media or other online content, can help to recognize and react on upcoming or existing issues. Moreover online communication offers innovative ways to communicate science in an understandable and time-efficient way (e.g. graphics, animated-explainer video clips …). Thus, don’t miss the opportunity to debunk myths and misleading information before it gets viral. Don’t leave the field to others spreading endangering concepts about vaccines. Start setting the agenda yourself and assisting parents in their decision-making wherever it is required. I think the Immunize Europe Forum is an excellent space to share examples of how to develop effective health communication messages. For me as a young scientist, it would be highly valuable to learn more about your experiences what works best? What are the challenges in promoting vaccination uptake? I hope many will contribute their ideas and share links to useful resources on communicating in regards to vaccine hesitancy. To kick this off, I hereby suggest a few interesting papers related to the topic: Betsch, C. (2011). Innovations in communication: The Internet and the psychology of vaccination decisions. Euro Surveillance 16(17), pp. 1-6. Betsch, C., Böhm, R., & Chapman, G. B. (2015). Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Vaccination Policy Effectiveness. Policy Inisights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences 2(1), pp. 61-73. Jarrett, C., Wilson, R., O’Leary, M., Eckersberger, E., & Larson, H. J. (2015). Strategies for addressing vaccine hesitancy – A systematic review. Vaccine 33(34), pp. 4180-4190. Larson, H. J., Jarrett, C., Eckersberger, E., Smith, D. M., & Paterson, P. (2014). Understanding vaccine hesitancy around vaccines and vaccination from a global perspective: a systematic review of published literature, 2007–2012. Vaccine 32(19), pp. 2150-2159. Rainey, J. J., Watkins, M., Ryman, T. K., Sandhu, P. B., & Banerjee, K. (2011). Reasons related to non-vaccination and under-vaccination of children in low and middle income countries: findings from a systematic review of the published literature, 1999-2009. Vaccine 29(46), pp. 8215-8221. Sadaf, A., Richards, J. L., Glanz, J., Salmon, D. A., & Omer, S. B. (2013). A systematic review of interventions for reducing parental vaccine refusal and vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine 31(40), pp. 4293-4304. WHO SAGE working group dealing with vaccine hesitancy. (2014). Strategies for Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy - A Systematic Review. Retrieved April 04, 2016, from http://www.who.int/immunization/sage/meetings/2014/october/3_SAGE_WG_Strategies_addressing_vaccine_hesitancy_2014.pdf