A new study funded by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that news coverage of expert scientific testimony on vaccination is effective at improving public perceptions of vaccines.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, found that participants who watched a video clip of science experts were more likely to have positive views on vaccines compared to those who watched a video of parent anecdotes, the Annenberg Public Policy Center reported. The study included video clips of Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci discussing evidence that supports the safety of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, and a clip of a mother refusing to vaccinate her child after one of her children appeared to have a negative reaction to the vaccine.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the University of Illinois.
Participants who watched Fauci’s message had more positive views about vaccination, including lower perceptions of vaccine-related risk and a stronger desire to encourage other people to vaccinate their children, the Annenberg Public Policy Center reported.
The video of the mother did not negatively affect pro-vaccine views if it was shown after Fauci’s message, but if shown before, the positive effects of Fauci’s video were less pronounced, the Annenberg Public Policy Center reported.
The study is based on an experiment that was conducted during the United States measles outbreak in 2019 with a nationally representative sample of 2,345 participants, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
Researchers believe the findings have implications for public health messaging about COVID-19 vaccines.
Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and study co-author Kathleen Hall Jamieson told the Annenberg Public Policy Center that scientific experts need to take steps to inform the public about the benefits of vaccinations.
“The scientific community needs to remind the public that the benefits of using approved vaccines outweigh the risks – and that the risks associated with contracting the disease are substantially higher than any associated with the vaccine,” Jamieson told the Annenberg Public Policy Center.