The Vaccine Communication symposia presented at the 2018 Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) Annual Meeting has explored ways to improve policy and eliminate vaccination anxiety in the era of ‘post-truth politics’.
A prominent example of immunisation anxiety in the era of ‘post-truth politics’ is the concern about the relationship between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism, which still permeates discussion despite being debunked in several scientific studies.
Measles incidences are on the rise in Europe, while the rates of immunisation are dropping.
Scientific facts and post-truth politics
According to the Society for Risk Analysis, members of the medical community are concerned with how they can make facts about vaccination ‘attractive’ again and how trust in scientific information on immunisation can be rebuilt in the era of ‘post-truth’ politics.
In the study, “Measles vaccination and vaccine hesitancy in Austria – Anthropological perspectives”, researchers found that the most prominent reasons parents chose not to vaccinate their child is the perception that measles do not pose a significant threat, anxiety about the side effects of immunisation, and a worry about overloading the child’s immature immune system.
The study also found that vaccine-critical health professionals suspected that vaccine information was biased. They believed that there were not enough studies of the long-term effect of early vaccines and that measles complications were overexaggerated. Generally speaking, the study confirmed that there was a lack of trust in the scientific information provided about measles and the vaccine itself.
An app to combat vaccination anxiety
The team has developed the VaccApp, a mobile app to alleviate parental anxiety about their child’s vaccination by helping them to understand immunisation further. The ViVI Score allows health care providers to instantly measure disease severity in children and adults with flu-like illness.
The team developed two additional mobile apps, the VACC tool and the ViVI health survey. The VACC Tool aids in the identification of adverse events at the point of care and the health survey was developed to assess health needs in vulnerable populations after evacuations from natural disasters or conflict zones.