CANVax Briefs Series in CCDR
CANVax is collaborating with Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) to publish short evidence-based briefs from our CANVax in Brief series throughout 2020.
These briefs will help inform, engage, and inspire readers by bringing attention to current and emerging issues in immunization, and by showcasing initiatives and activities from across Canada that aim to improve vaccine acceptance and uptake.
*Note: Previous versions of briefs originally published under the CANVax in Brief series are available upon request, contact us here.*
Optimizing communication material to address vaccine hesitancy
Volume 46–2/3, February 6, 2020: Public Health Network
Vaccine hesitancy (the reluctance to accept recommended vaccines) is a complex issue that poses risk communication challenges for public health authorities and clinicians. Studies have shown that providing too much evidence on vaccine safety and efficacy to those who are vaccine-hesitant has done little to stem the growth of hesitancy-related beliefs and fears. The objective of this paper is to describe good practices in developing communication materials to address vaccine hesitancy.
An inventory of vaccination communication materials in Canada was assessed according to the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Health Product Risk Communication Evaluation (2015). Many of the current communication products could be improved to better align with evidence-based risk communication best practices. Five best practices were identified. First, identify target audience and establish trust. Second, provide both the risks and benefits of vaccination, as most people are looking for balanced information. Third, give the facts before addressing the myths. Fourth, use visual aids. Fifth, test communication material prior to launch.
Applying these best practices to current or future communication products will help vaccine providers (including physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, public health professionals) to develop communication materials that are sensitive to the complex ways that people process and value information and thus more likely to optimize vaccine uptake in their communities.
Introductory Editorial - CANVax, a new online resource
Volume 46–1, January 2, 2020: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
Scientific progress around the development, use and best practices for communicating the benefits of vaccines is rapid, and keeping up-to-date with the substantial body of evidence on these topics is challenging. However, the increase in the number of vaccines and decline in vaccine-preventable illnesses has often focused public attention more on the risks of vaccines rather than the risks of the diseases. In Canada and elsewhere, an increasing number of parents are choosing to delay and/or refuse some or all vaccines for their children, leading to declining community protection against vaccine-preventable diseases and an increase in the number of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Evidence suggests that the concept of vaccine hesitancy contributes to a deeper understanding of vaccination decisions by moving beyond the traditional binary of pro- or anti-vaccine attitudes to recognize a spectrum of beliefs and associated behaviours that occupies the space between the two poles. At a time of growing antimicrobial resistance to infections, protection conferred by vaccination is more important than ever.
The Canadian Vaccination Evidence Resource and Exchange Centre (CANVax) is an online curated database of resources to support immunization and promotional activities aimed at improving vaccine acceptance and uptake in Canada. It includes both the identification of accurate and reliable resources and the creation of new resources by a group of multidisciplinary professionals.
This issue of the Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) includes the first of a series of “CANVax Briefs” that have been developed by experts after conducting scoping reviews and environmental scans and assessing the most rigorous evidence. The aim of the CANVax Briefs is to bring attention to current and emerging issues by providing short summaries of the recent best available evidence to assist frontline public health and clinical care professionals in optimizing the immunization rate in Canada. CANVax Briefs will be published in CCDR throughout 2020.
CANVax: Promoting immunization resiliency
Volume 46–1, January 2, 2020: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
The avalanche of online information on immunization is having a major impact on the percentage of the population who choose to get vaccinated. Vaccine misinformation spreads widely with the interactive Web 2.0 and social media; this can bury science-based information. A plethora of immunization misinformation online is affecting trust in health care professionals and in public immunization programs. There are no simple solutions to this, but seven evidence-based strategies can help. First, listen to patients’ and parents’ concerns, and demonstrate responsiveness by adopting best immunization practices, such as pain mitigation. Second, recognize and alert others to anti-immunization tactics, namely, conspiracy theories, fake experts, selectivity, demands that vaccines be 100% safe and effective, misrepresentation and false logic. Third, avoid unproductive debates with those who have strongly held views, both in person and when using social media. Be respectful, stick to your key message, identify where to find useful information and exit. Fourth, consider establishing an attractive, easily searchable online presence that reflects the complex art of persuasion. Emphasize the benefits of vaccine, use reader-friendly graphics and highlight facts with stories to strengthen your case. Fifth, work with social media platform providers, not to stifle freedom of expression, but to help ensure that misinformation is not favoured in searches. Sixth, promote curriculum development in the schools to improve students’ understanding of the benefits and safety of immunization and to foster critical thinking skills. To do this, optimize the use of age-appropriate comics and interactive learning tools such as electronic games. Seventh, to shift the narrative in specific communities with low vaccination rates, work with community leaders to build tailored programs that foster trust and reflect local values.
Last Reviewed: February 21, 2020