To combat vaccine misinformation at home and around the globe, we must build trust.

Dr. Heidi J. Larson founded the Vaccine Confidence Project to monitor global public confidence in immunization programs by building an information surveillance system for early detection of public concerns around vaccines. “We don’t have a misinformation problem,” she says. “We have a trust problem.” The rise of social media as a news source, along with a general distrust of institutions, has exacerbated the problem. Scientists and global health specialists often speak in jargon that many people don’t understand, and vaccines are sold by large pharmaceutical companies, which generally rank very low in public trust.

Studies have found that one of the best ways to build trust in health interventions like vaccines is not by websites of facts and statistics, but by conversations with trusted members of a local community. This tends to vary based on the country and community. In the U.S., local pharmacists are seen as one of the most trusted sources. For example, UN Foundation partner Walgreens has more than 9,500 community pharmacy locations across the U.S. Its pharmacists work to get to know those in their communities, build relationships with customers, and answer their questions and concerns about medications and immunizations.

The UN’s Verified initiative is calling on people around the world to become “information volunteers” and share UN-verified, science-based content about COVID-19. As scientists learn more about the virus and vaccines are introduced, the onus has become even stronger to rely on facts to keep families and communities safe and connected.

Read the full article about establishing confidence in vaccines by Martha Rebour at United Nations Foundation.