Project: Vaccine risk communication

Contact: Julie Downs

In recent years, there has been a growing concern that new parents are being inundated with unfounded accusations about vaccine safety that may lead them to decide against vaccinating their children. This has been a problem in the UK and in Japan, where lower vaccination rates against preventable diseases like measles have led to disease outbreaks after years of diminishing incidence. Although this problem has not yet led to noticeable decreases in vaccination in the US, the advent of internet web sites with inflammatory messages has public health officials concerned about the potential for an epidemic of misinformation. This research addresses the issue of effective response to parental concerns and a preventive approach, so that parents understand inherent risks and benefits of vaccines well enough to process information (and misinformation) appropriately.