Live event feed: Mary Appleton

world vaccine congress lyon, PREVENT


Mary Appleton is currently Executive Coordinator with the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (CCfV) in Halifax, Canada. She is also Regional Coordinator for PREVENT (Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise Inc), a national project to accelerate the commercialization of vaccine development in Canada. Working with multidisciplinary CCfV researchers on health policy and program issues, Mary brings experience from her previous position as Senior Manager for Immunize Canada – a unique coalition of NGOs, government agencies and the private sector working together to promote immunization for all ages. Her strength is in practical strategies to assist decision making, focusing on individual behaviour and societal influences more than the science of vaccines. Together with Noni MacDonald and Jennifer Smith at CCfV, a new look at vaccine hesitancy was published in Biologicals (Aug 2011) recommending behavioural change strategies to increase vaccine uptake.


Blogged on behalf of Milana Shapira and Sophia Doll

Mary Appleton, as an advocate of vaccines, discussed the reasons for vaccine hesitancy and public behaviour. Through "learning objectives" she explained how this hesitancy can be tackled. Why should we vaccinate? How do we weigh the risk? Should I vaccinate or not?

To answer these questions, Appleton considers heuristics: cognitive shortcuts which simplify decisions when assessing the risk of vaccination. A better understanding of how beliefs influence decisions is needed. The media is an excellent way to enhance vaccine confidence. The clarity of language for a clear pro-vaccine message has to be improved. Enhancing vaccine education was in my opinion the most important take home message to ensure trust in vaccination!


Tell us what you think about risk perception, vaccine hesitancy and behaviour below:

· Heuristics, or cognitive shortcuts, simplify complex decisions and judgement when assessing the risk of vaccination. These cognitive shortcuts are formed by experience and beliefs

· When presented with ‘facts', these cognitive shortcuts filter what information is allowed into the decision, what is excluded, and what is moulded to fit into the decision process

· We need a better understanding of how beliefs influence decisions to vaccinate, and how vaccine advocates can shape messages to encourage positive beliefs and subsequent trust in vaccines


The presentations from the event will be made available from the 1st November.

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