Vaccine hesitancy—the delay or refusal of vaccination without medical indication—has been cited as a serious threat to global health by the World Health Organization (WHO), attributing it to misinformation on the internet. The WHO has also identified Health Care Professionals (HCPs) as the most trusted influencers of vaccination decisions. JITSUVAX leverages those insights to turn toxic misinformation into a potential asset based on two premises:
- The best way to acquire knowledge and to combat misperceptions is by employing misinformation itself, either in weakened doses as a cognitive “vaccine”, or through thorough analysis of misinformation during “refutational learning”.
- HCPs form the critical link between vaccination policies and vaccine uptake. The principal objective of JITSUVAX is to leverage misinformation about vaccinations into an opportunity by training HCPs through inoculation and refutational learning, thereby neutralizing misinformation among HCPs and enabling them to communicate more effectively with patients.
JITSUVAX comprises 4 scientific work packages (WPs 1-4), plus one Management WP (WP0). WP1 will systematically measure HCP attitudes towards vaccinations across participating countries. WP2 will analyse argumentation by anti-vaccination activists to provide material for inoculation and refutational learning. WP2 will also develop novel tools that improve public resilience to misinformation and HCP’s knowledge and attitudes concerning vaccinations. WP3 will translate the findings from WP1 and WP2 into practice, by exploring several new tools, ranging from a new “empathic refutational interview” to interventions in the training of HCPs. WP4 focuses on impact and dissemination. WP4 will design and develop a guidance document for HCPs and public health bodies. Through the team’s contacts and previous collaborations with WHO and UNICEF, we will disseminate and leverage our new knowledge for global impact.