Resources for tackling vaccine misinformation

In this blog post, Pip Divall, Clinical Librarian Service Manager at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and CILIP Information Literacy Group’s Health Sector rep, gathers together useful resources for tackling Covid-19 vaccine misinformation during the global pandemic.


Pip Divall
Pip Divall

The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines has been rapid during the first few months of 2021, since they first began being offered in December 2020. My office window overlooks the corridor that people queue along for the vaccine hub at the hospital I work in, and I’ve enjoyed popping my head up every so often and seeing people moving along.

However, uptake of the vaccine isn’t universal, and there are stories of vaccines left at the end of sessions, and appointments not attended. The journal Nature reported in January 2021 that public trust in the available vaccines is increasing: “The United Kingdom had the highest share of people who were willing to receive a vaccine (78%).” Although this still leaves 22% who are unwilling or undecided.

We’ve all had to become epidemiologists to some extent over the past year, and sometimes that has meant dealing with understanding complicated scientific terms, and realising that science is a process rather than a hard fact or end point.


Managing vaccine misinformation

The COVID-19 Vaccine Communication: A practical guide for improving vaccine communication and fighting misinformation by Lewandowsky S, Cook J, Schmid P, Holford DL, Finn A, et al. is a handbook is for journalists, doctors, nurses, policy makers, researchers, teachers, students, parents, – it’s for everyone who wants to know more about:

  • the COVID-19 vaccines,
  • how to talk to others about them,
  • how to challenge misinformation about the vaccines.

There’s a specific section on challenging vaccine myths, with facts clearly stated and explained. This site also provides videos, infographics and games to challenge misinformation.

NewsGuard also has a Special Report on the top Covid-19 myths that are spreading online.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations have partnered together to fight the coronavirus “infodemic”. Member states were called upon to tackle misinformation about the virus and to address this across digital platforms.

We can all play our part in challenging misinformation about the vaccines, using the communication guide above, whenever possible.


Other sources:

Seren Boyd, Pushing back – tackling the anti-vax movement, 11th January 2021.

Public Health England, New data show vaccines reduce severe COVID-19 in older adults, 1st March 2021.

Karen DeSalve & Kristie Canegallo, Google Health. How you’ll find accurate and timely information on COVID-19 vaccines, 10th December 2020.

Public Health England has information on all the vaccine trials so far.

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