Healthcare workers to help tackle COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

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Healthcare workers will help a global taskforce that has been established to combat vaccine hesitancy by tackling misinformation.

The project led by the University of Bristol and involving teams in Canada, Germany, Finland, France, and Portugal, will harness the potential of healthcare professionals to challenge misconceptions about vaccination, reinforce confidence in vaccines, and encourage uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine, including being immunised themselves.

Vaccine hesitancy has been recognised as a serious threat by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Improving vaccine uptake

The £2.7m research project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, will systematically investigate attitudes towards vaccinations among healthcare workers and arguments made by anti-vaccination activists will be analysed and used to develop tools and techniques to challenge and refute such claims via healthcare workers.

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair in Cognitive Science at the University of Bristol, who is heading the taskforce, said: “This is vital work, which will play a key role in fighting the deadly virus and other infectious diseases. Vaccine hesitancy is a significant issue across the world, including in the UK, and concerted efforts are needed to understand more about its origins and find effective ways to reduce fear and uncertainty, and build confidence in vaccines which are our best shot out of the pandemic…

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