Public Trust in Vaccines
This project analyzed public trust in vaccines from multiple disciplines to identify barriers to vaccine coverage, evaluate the role of the media in the public’s attitudes towards vaccines, and provide recommendations to improve the public’s trust in vaccines.
Vaccines represent a significant scientific triumph and remain a powerful tool for preventive childhood health. As the communal health benefits of vaccination rely upon high rates of immunization coverage, lapses in coverage caused by lack of acceptance can have severe consequences for society. The erosion of public trust in vaccines reduces the effectiveness of vaccination programs and presents potentially severe public health consequences for communities worldwide.
Public attitudes toward immunization recommendations are complex, informed by a variety of sources, and anchored by ethics, customs, and values. In order to craft evidence-based communication strategies that will improve public understanding of vaccines, this Academy initiative examined what research is needed to better understand how public perceptions of childhood vaccines are formed. This work was undertaken by a multidisciplinary committee of experts drawn from medicine, behavioral science, communications, science history, and journalism.
Project chairs Barry Bloom, Edgar Marcuse, and Seth Mnookin co-authored an editorial in Science, “Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy” and the NBC News story, “Measles Cases Surge in U.S., Fueled By Unvaccinated Travelers,” mentioned the Academy’s report, Public Trust in Vaccines: Defining a Research Agenda.
The project was one of the first to develop an agenda for research to understand the issues underlying trust or confidence in vaccines. The report played an important role in catalyzing foundation and government support for a broad research program to understand how decisions are made regarding vaccines and trust in the science behind them.