About Vaccines aims to give parents scientifically backed evidence about the efficacy of childhood vaccinations.
A team at Dublin City University (DCU) has launched a new website that aims to counter vaccine misinformation by highlighting the science behind vaccines and giving parents evidence-based information.
About Vaccines is the result of a collaboration between DCU academics and members of the public, including parents, primary caregivers, outreach workers and educators.
Part of the Voices for Vaccine project funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), it stems from the work of project lead Dr Eileen Culloty. She is an assistant professor in the DCU School of Communications and deputy director of the Institute for Future Media Democracy and Society.
‘The accessibility of communication channels and social media platforms presents parents with a deluge of conflicting information about childhood vaccines’
– PROF EILEEN CULLOTY
The website aims to provide simple, straightforward and accurate health campaign materials to help parents who are deciding whether to vaccinate their children. It looks to source accurate vaccine information and distinguish it from vaccine misinformation that people may find online.
“For vaccine information campaigns to be successful, people need to source accurate information about vaccines, which is the aim of the About Vaccines website,” said Culloty, who is also an affiliate of the SFI Adapt research centre.
“False information has always existed, but online platforms provide fertile ground for vaccine myths and untruths to take hold. The accessibility of communication channels and social media platforms presents parents with a deluge of conflicting information about childhood vaccines.”
Culloty added that having access to accurate and straightforward health information is “essential to the success of vaccine uptake” and in keeping communities safe from vaccine-preventable illnesses.
To inform the resources on About Vaccines, project partners including the Early Learning Initiative at the National College of Ireland spoke to parents in north inner-city Dublin and north county Dublin. These are areas where vaccine uptake has been in decline.
“People can be hesitant about or refuse vaccines for several reasons,” said Barbara Gormley, a science and health communication researcher at DCU.
“These include access to the correct information, peer influence, reasoning that is driven more by personal or moral values than scientific fact and distrust in those responsible for delivering vaccine programmes.
“Public participant projects like Voices for Vaccines are essential to the success of health information campaigns as all voices must be included and represented to ensure the evidence-based information is accessible and tailored to address all parents’ questions and concerns when making vaccine decisions and choices.”
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