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Monitoring Vaccination Discourse

At a glance


The WHO identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the ten major threats to global health. It can be assumed that the public discourse has a significant influence on the individual vaccine decision. Thus, to understand and counter vaccine hesitancy, it is crucial to understand how media reports on vaccination, how the topic is discussed in politics, how stakeholders in public health communicate about it and how laypeople position themselves publicly in this regard.Previous discourses on vaccines impact current attitudes towards vaccination; this could be observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These events will in turn impact the future vaccination discourse. Therefore, it is crucial not to observe discourses on a specific vaccine isolated, but rather monitor a longer research period. For this reason, this project analyses the vaccination discourse from 2000 to 2025. It focuses on how the vaccination discourse influences topics and attitudes towards as well as knowledge on vaccination, including vaccine acceptance as well as varying levels of hesitancy or scepticism. For this purpose, media coverage, parliamentary debates, posts in internet forums, and contributions of public health stakeholders are analysed. In addition, the meta-discourse, i.e., the discourse on the discourse, will be analysed. The meta-discourse analysis focuses on question such as “is there a complaint about one-sided reporting, and if so, from whom?” It does not entail an analysis of what is commonly regarded as metadiscourse, i.e., interactive devices used in writing or speaking. Based on the findings of the discourse analysis, a prototype of a web application to observe vaccination discourse in Switzerland will be developed.  Science needs to be communicated to society. However, science must also recognise what certainties exist in society and how society think about scientific applications. This is exactly what discourse analyses do: e.g., they record the rules of the game in public communication about vaccines, information offers, and individual concerns. These rules guide thinking and dialogue, and ultimately lead to decisions and actions. The project combines innovative fundamental research using a meta-discourse analysis approach with applied research to develop a web application.

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