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University of Queensland

Antivaccination and Vaccine Hesitancy

University of Queensland via edX

Overview

In 2019 the World Health Organization listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to global health. Vaccine hesitancy is the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate. Even though vaccines are available to many people, doubts about their safety and effectiveness jeopardises important progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.

Numerous countries which had at one time been declared free of vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles, are again experiencing measles outbreaks. Many health workers from around the globe also report encountering parents who are hesitant about having their own children vaccinated. These hesitancies can be fuelled by misinformation about vaccines being harmful or unnecessary, claims that there is a global conspiracy behind vaccines, as well as distrust of government and healthcare professionals.

Such vaccine doubts might seem surprising, because vaccination is one the greatest public health achievements in human history, which saves millions of lives every year. Yet vaccine hesitancy is complex, and there are several central reasons why people choose to delay or decline getting vaccinated.

This course will enable you to understand this complicated issue and what lies behind vaccine hesitancy. It will also equip you with key skills for responding to antivaccination claims. You will engage with the science of vaccination and learn crucial information about why vaccines are safe and effective. Additionally, the course examines the most well-known vaccine myths and antivaccination persuasion strategies. These myths include stories about vaccines causing autism, questions about whether too many vaccines can overload a child’s immune system, as well conspiratorial claims that vaccines are major money-makers for BigPharma, government and doctors.

The course will also prepare you with the most effective strategies for addressing vaccine doubts expressed by hesitant patients, friends, or relatives. You will gain practical advice from leading research on vaccine refusal and learn about ways to improve vaccine advocacy in the face of immunisation hesitancies.

This isn’t just a course about vaccines and antivaccination, but it’s a MOOC dedicated to confronting one of the most significant threats to global health today.

Taught by

Dr Tom Aechtner

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