Novaator’s five recommendations for discussions with anti-vaccination individuals


The ERR research portal Novaator published five argumentative recommendations for vaccinations to be discussed with anti-vaccination individuals.

The recommendations formulated by the Novaator editor focus on the observations of Cornelia Betchs, Professor of Health Communication at the University of Erfurt. The story draws on referring to several studies, and analyzes the effectiveness of communication, as well as the opinions of other medical communications experts.

The story is written in regards to communicating with anti-vaccination individuals but the suggestions in the article apply to persuading people with different opinions on other topics as well.

Five recommendations from the editor of Navator:

  1. Don’t put down or label
    Firstly differentiate between skeptics and anti- vaccination individuals. The first group uses scientific approaches and form their opinions accordingly. They may among other things, search for scientific literature and appropriate conclusions. In contrast, anti-vaccination groups criticize science as a whole.
  2. Don’t repeat or amplify myths
    First, emphasize that this is a myth which can be easily overturned by facts and if necessary elaborate. The myth itself can only be mentioned later and explained why it usually confuses people.
  3. Negative messages spread more easily
    „Messages that contain negative information spread faster, both in the real world and in the web. It may be time for the health authorities to think that they do not always have to try to remain neutral due to the basis in facts, „said Salathé Marcel, digital epidemiology professor at Lausanne State Polytechnic University.
  4. Don’t inundate people with facts
    Lies are not believed just because of a lack of facts. It is more effective to bring up three or four clearly opposed arguments than bringing out ten facts.
  5. Caring is not lost; it should be encouraged
    People are not entirely individualistic. A professor’s research has shown that talking about herd immunity increases faith in the benefits of vaccination even in Western countries. The group of so-called disbelievers and individuals in society that are not vaccinating their children does not increase due to this.

Materials used in this article:

John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky’s myth breaking handbook

Professor Salathé Marcel, Professor of Digital Epidemiology at Lausanne National Polytechnic University’s research

Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler, Sean Richey, and Gary L. Freed on “Effective Messaging on Introducing Vaccines.

Sara Pluviano, Caroline Watt and Sergio Della Sala research “Misleading information remains in the memory: failure of three strategies for vaccination

Photo: Tintin44/Flickr/C