Disinformation, distrust, polarization: a research chair based at Université Laval will look into the hesitations towards vaccination, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to identify its origins.< /strong>
Rector Sophie D'Amours announced Friday morning the creation of the Chair in Applied Public Health on the Anthropology of Vaccination Issues, in collaboration with the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The federal agency will provide $1.1 million to anthropology professor Ève Dubé and her team over five years for this mandate.
The new chair, the first on this subject in the country, will try to identify the individual, social, cultural or structural factors that lead people to doubt vaccination, a public health measure whose benefits have nevertheless been well demonstrated.
The pandemic has brought to light “an increased polarization, a politicization of certain issues, a growing distrust of recommendations, expertise”, according to Ms. Dubé, herself a scientific advisor at the INSPQ, who is interested in these questions. for several years.
She recognizes that she will have to act with tact to navigate this sensitive subject.
“Being told 'you're not right, you're silly, you're anti-science', it never moved the debate forward and it never changed anyone's mind,” he says. her, saying her goal is not to “convince” anyone but to “try to understand” people's concerns with “empathy”.
His work will also focus on disinformation on social networks and the “echo chambers” of algorithms. The specialist raises the “big role” of certain actors who “will commodify” alternatives to the vaccine or intentionally spread false information for their financial gain or popularity.
The responsibility of the scientific community, particularly its ability to communicate well with the public, will also be analyzed. But we will also have to see to a better “scientific literacy” within the population, believes Ms. Dubé.
“Specifically for COVID-19, what we observe in our work is that 'there is indeed a rise in hesitation, much linked to the Omicron wave, which is also linked to the way we communicated about vaccines at the start of a pandemic,' she says.
Rector D'Amours praised the professor's ability to “establish a constructive dialogue”, adding that no harassment of her would be tolerated.
For Dr. Gaston De Serres, epidemiologist at the INSPQ, the idea of opening new channels of listening with people who have reservations can only be beneficial.
“We can have tools that in terms of efficiency and safety work well, but if people do not adopt the behavior of going to get vaccinated, obviously, we are not advanced,” he says. /p>
Two lines of research:
1) Understanding the expressions, causes and consequences of vaccine hesitancy in the population as well as among professionals.
2) Develop and evaluate interventions to improve equitable access to services and reduce vaccine hesitancy.
Vaccination against COVID-19 in Quebec:
61%: proportion of the population with a completed basic vaccination (for adults, 3 doses or 2 doses + one infection)
23%: adults who received a dose in the last 5 months
* Sources: Université Laval and Santé Québec
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Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128