Win over the skeptics: religious beliefs, fear, false …

According to research by Professor Heidi Larson of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, vaccine reluctance has grown steadily over the past 12 years. She said the phenomenon was in part because people felt left out of the conversation about vaccine development and wanted to have a voice in government interventions.

Some of the questions hesitant people tended to ask were whether the vaccines actually worked and whether they were compatible with their religious beliefs. In particular, between 2015 and 2017/18, there was an increase in hesitation, especially in French-speaking Africa. Research also found that in 2015 the country most skeptical of vaccines was France, with 42% of its population not believing vaccines to be safe.

Larson says his book, “Stuck: How do vaccine rumors start? And why they do not disappear ”, captures the past 12 years of people’s feelings about vaccines, the dominant concerns being issues of dignity, feelings of distress, being in an unstable environment, the ‘wildfire’ spreading disinformation globally, the deeply ingrained power of people’s beliefs and science has become the new dogma that feels unapproachable, didactic, and devoid of human emotions.

She said what was important to consider when tackling vaccine reluctance was to “take a step back from the product and look at feelings, life and emotions.” people who would be affected by vaccines.

Larson stressed that it was more urgent to put people’s stories into scientific evidence, not just dismiss them.

Comparing how people have historically reacted to viral threats, she said when HIV / AIDS happened people felt “it wasn’t real.” She said the same was true with Covid-19, where people thought it didn’t make sense, especially that it moved to countries where it did, causing a backlash of “it can’t be real.”

Larson said the pandemic caused by coronavirus was not necessarily a surprise as the scientific community expected something of this scale and initially believed the H1N1 virus would be. She said scientists have long wondered whether they would be ready for a major pandemic and the answer was ‘no’, which is why they were ill-prepared for Covid-19.

Although Larson has researched vaccine reluctance for the past 12 years, she said she didn’t expect it to get as bad as she had been, attributing this to nature viral disinformation fueled by the pace of technological change.

According to Larson’s research, people’s sense of loss of autonomy and freedom (which in part leads to reluctance) is not just about misinformation, but also about their beliefs, faith and belief. confidence.

“No amount of misinformation will change people’s beliefs and faith.”

In the scientific community, the perception of vaccine risk is presented as numbers, but what people seem to decide is what they instinctively think about vaccines compared to other risks in their life – for example, being more. worried about pregnancy as HIV, so emotions often determine the outlook, Larson explained.

She went on to stress that people also want to feel included in the vaccine development process. She said that in 30-40 years of work, she had never seen such an engaged audience at different levels, but was still disconnected from the scientific community.

Larson’s research found that people generally agreed that vaccines were important, but they became skeptical about the safety of vaccines. She said that in countries where people were confident in their government’s response to Covid-19, reluctance or skepticism about vaccination tended to be weaker.

Another problem that Larson’s research highlighted was the debate over ‘prayer against the vaccine’, and that in cases where people’s religious beliefs were deeply ingrained, they tended to turn to religion because they did. saw her as more stable and familiar, thus instilling a deep trust so that when faced with things in which they do not have so much confidence, they fall back on those religious beliefs. SM / MC

Ruth R. Culp