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Vaccines: Hesitancy, Fake News, and Science

 Registration is closed for this event
February 24th, 2021 19:30   --   21:00

Announcements about the approval and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations in late 2020 were greeted with jubilation in many quarters, but polling showed that around one third of Britons would consider refusing the vaccine. False stories and suspicions about the safety and the efficacy of the vaccines, as well as the motivations of those who have produced them, continue to proliferate. Vaccine hesitancy is a real threat to our public health and scientific literacy.

As humanists, it is important that we advocate for science and evidence-based decision-making around vaccinations. But is it possible to approach others with compassion and empathy, while recognising the damage that not taking vaccines can have? What can we do to improve the discourse around Covid-19 vaccinations and science more generally?

We will hear from experienced campaigners and communicators on the best ways to discuss the science behind vaccinations, combat fake news, and engage positively with those we disagree with.

All are welcome to attend and there will be plenty of opportunities to put your questions to our speakers. Spaces are limited and registration is essential. To reserve a space for you and your household, please register here. We will be using Zoom and a link will be emailed to you ahead of the event. Please note that the event will be recorded.


Dr Richard Clarke is a Health Psychologist with a background in Psychological Research Methods. Richard recently completed his PhD with the Vaccine Confidence Project at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where his research focused on the vaccine information-seeking behaviour of women in regard to the antenatal pertussis vaccination program. His broader research interests include vaccine hesitancy, health information-seeking behaviour, decision conflict, the role of trust in healthcare and meta-research. Within his role at Southampton Richard is helping to administer and write up the findings of the ROT-Covid-19 survey.

Mariam Kazem-Malaki joined Sense about Science in 2020 as the Policy and Research Manager. After a career working in the UK parliament and local government she developed a passion for engaging people in subjects that might otherwise seem inaccessible to them. Mariam delivers Sense about Science’s policy activity, including Evidence Week and Transparency of Evidence. She also leads on our response to policy developments, advocating for the public interest in science and evidence.

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society, the Editor of the Skeptic, and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests, going undercover to expose psychics and quack medics, and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, the Times and New Statesman.

Rachel Taggart-Ryan is the Campaigns Officer at Humanists UK. Her work covers a wide range of issues in Public Affairs and Policy including ending NHS funding of homeopathy, and other bioethical issues. She led Humanists UK's campaign to introduce an opt-out organ donation system in England and sat on NHS Blood and Transplant’s organ donation campaign advisory group. Rachel will chair this event.

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