Heidi Larson

Rumors, trust, and vaccines

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About Heidi Larson

Anthropologist and founding Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at the WHO Centre of Excellence, Heidi Larson, is an internationally recognized leader working to address global vaccine hesitancy. Heidi’s research focuses on the analysis of social and political factors that can affect uptake of health interventions and influence policies. Her interest is centered on risk and rumor management from the clinical trials stage to the market delivery stage, and building public trust. Previously, Heidi led Global Immunisation Communication at UNICEF, chaired GAVI’s Advocacy Task Force, and served on the WHO SAGE Working Group on vaccine hesitancy. In addition, she served on the FDA Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Emergency Communication Expert Working Group and is Principal Investigator of the EU-funded (EBODAC) project on the deployment, acceptance and compliance of an Ebola vaccine trial in Sierra Leone. Her current academic appointed roles include Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Associate Professor, Department of Global Health, at the University of Washington; and Fellow at the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security.

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About This Talk

Heidi Larson, Vaccine Trust Anthropologist, studies rumors. With today’s technology, information is at our fingertips; at the same time, misinformation spreads like wildfire. While working across the globe on  global Polio eradication, Heidi noticed the consequential impact of vaccine distrust and medical rumors. In response, she created the Vaccine Confidence Project, an interdisciplinary, global initiative that studies rumor dissemination across countries, communities, and social networks to better understand medical misinformation. While vaccines are surrounded by “political and social turbulence,” Heidi argues that the problem is not misinformation, but rather the lack of relationships around trusted health information.

Heidi believes that we can inspire trust in medicine, particularly around vaccines, by building a health system that is empathetic and reciprocal. Watch Heidi’s Talk, “Rumors, trust and vaccines".

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