UWindsor project to focus on combating vaccine misinformation

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A team at the University of Windsor is working to break down vaccine hesitancy because of misleading or incorrect information being promoted online and through social media.

Kinesiology associate professor, Dr. Paula van Wyk is leading a project that will use a variety of tools to educate adults about vaccines and boosters for a range of illnesses, including pertussis, tetanus, influenza, pneumonia, and shingles.

A website has been launched to provide verifiable information on vaccinations from government based sources and offers a quiz to test vaccination knowledge.

The project is also teaming up with a number of health care partners to provide a variety of information on vaccinations.

Dr. van Wyk says a large percentage of the adult population is not fully vaccinated for conditions and diseases that have been around for decades, making these individuals a risk to themselves and the general population.

"Pertussis, tetanus, pneumococcal and influenza. Shingles is an important one, especially as we get older. Measles, mumps and rubella,"she says.

She says even though a lot of emphasis is put on childhood immunization, the most vaccine preventable deaths is among adults.

"We really need to provide accurate education that helps lower the vaccine hesitancy that's occurring, improve our vaccine competence to try and reach the Canadian level goals in Windsor-Essex for vaccination."

Dr. van Wyk says they want to try to help get vaccination rates up....

"We want to just encourage individuals in our community to become discerning consumers of the information that they read online," she added.

To take the quiz to test your vaccination knowledge of for information on vaccination, the project website is www.wevaccine.ca

The project is being funded through a $50,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, in conjunction with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

The funding comes from a pot of money set aside to encourage vaccine confidence.