How do you have a constructive conversation with someone who doesn't want to or is reluctant to be vaccinated against Covid-19? A new web portal has been launched in Sweden to help ordinary people address myths and misconceptions about the vaccines, using evidence-based advice and support. It is currently available in Swedish and English, with Arabic and Somali versions to be added shortly.
Pratavaccin.se (Talk vaccines) has been developed by the Swedish non-profit organisation VA (Public & Science) in consultation with a number of organisations and public authorities in Sweden.
The website provides concrete advice on how to talk to a friend, colleague or family member who is sceptical about getting vaccinated against Covid-19."
Cissi Askwall, Secretary General of VA
Small chat can make a big difference
It is easy to believe that people's reluctance to get vaccinated is only due to a lack of knowledge about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, and that the solution is just to provide them with more factual information. This is partly true, but emotions, values and social factors, such as how much trust you have in whoever is providing the information, are just as important.
"A person's reluctance to get vaccinated is often due to fear or a lack of trust, which means that factual information provided by public authorities is not enough. In fact, a chat with someone they trust can be more effective at reducing anxiety, increasing knowledge, and in the long run, result in more people deciding to get vaccinated," said Gustav Bohlin, a researcher at VA.
The challenge of countering myths
Engaging in vaccine discussions with someone who has a different opinion to your own can be difficult, especially if their opinion is based on a myth or conspiracy theory. On the Pratavaccin.se website, you can find a number of common vaccine myths along with a simple and scientifically based guide on how to counter them in conversation.
"The guide is based on research into how to best counter conspiracy theories. Using these findings, we have developed concrete tips on how to have a constructive conversation with someone who, for example, believes that the vaccine contains a microchip," explained Gustav Bohlin. "In order to succeed, it is important to use a respectful tone and be sensitive to the other person's opinions and feelings. Pratavaccine.se guides you through how to do this," he added.