Sources of information

Lack of information, or inadequate or misleading information about vaccine safety, increases the risk of the erosion of trust and confidence in health experts, immunization programmes and governments. Ultimately it can result in lost opportunities to protect health. WHO estimates that two million additional lives could be saved every year by the effective use of readily available vaccines.

Be aware of the different sources of information in your country. Even in remote rural locations in developing countries, the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of the population towards vaccine safety are influenced by an increasingly wide range of information sources. Roll your mouse over the images to see what the main information sources might be.

Printed material includes newspapers, leaflets, and posters. Newspapers vary in their coverage, politics and reporting quality. Communications need to be written with the target audience in mind and in the relevant language(s). The local school or place of worship may have the necessary equipment to watch recordings. Mobile phone messages (voice, images and text) are widely used in many countries meaning that people can transfer either positive or negative information about vaccines very broadly and rapidly. Local health workers and health centres, hospitals, etc. know their communities and their concerns and have a vital role to play in listening and explaining. Health education campaigns facilitate learning using language and techniques that are appropriate for the learners. Visiting experts from regional or national health organizations, charities, hospitals, etc. communicate and explain policy and procedures. Online resources and communication networks may be provided by governments, health authorities, international organizations (e.g. WHO, UNICEF, GAVI), universities and vaccine manufacturers and accessed from computers and mobile devices at home, at work or in the community. Religious and/or community leaders are often key communicators: receiving, considering and sharing information, often with the authority that comes with their leadership role. Parents, guardians and vaccinees with personal experience of the immunization service can speak first hand of their experiences and concerns. There may be a radio or TV in a local community centre if domestic ownership is limited. Programmes may be local, national or international in origin and focus.

Question

Select from the below sources of online information that may help you as immunization manager to powerfully share information with colleagues and the public on the safety of vaccines and immunization.

Facebook Wikipedia
Twitter Website
Blogs Newsletters

Answer

All of the statements above are correct.

Relevant tools include discussions on social media channels, e.g. Facebook, Twitter; blogs (diaries, opinion pieces and commentaries on news and events written by members of the general public as well as journalists and all kinds of experts); or Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, with content freely created by its worldwide contributors.

All these forms of communication can be harnessed to deliver correct health messages on vaccine safety and to counteract misleading or health-damaging information that is causing concern locally or nationally.

The World Wide Web is a mine of useful infor­ma­tion on various topics, but also contains websites of dubious quality. Many quality web sites contain science-based in­for­ma­tion about vaccine safety. Others provide unbalanced and misleading in­for­ma­tion, which can lead to undue fears, particularly among parents and patients. At WHO's Vaccine Safety Net web site you can find web sites providing information on vaccine safety which adhere to good information practices.

Should you be seeking information on vaccine safety that you want to communicate in your country or region, consider the advice of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) on how to identify good information practices for vaccine safety websites.