Opinion Skepticism about the vaccine shows that politics and science have failed, our author writes. This means communicating with the population on an equal footing. It is difficult to correct errors in coronal contact.
The second year of the pandemic leaves Germany divided. The population can be roughly divided into two camps: those who reject vaccination and those who support vaccination. The reasons for skepticism about a vaccine in parts of our society are varied and often elusive. Vaccine skepticism can be based on fear of the vaccine and its side effects, as well as on the lack of clarity of the pathogen and therefore its unrealism.
But also the unwillingness to allow a small group of citizens (with better knowledge) to dictate what they should and should not do can inspire disapproval. Vaccination skepticism shows the failure of politics and science to reach out to the population on an equal footing in crisis situations. Part of our community simply wasn’t captured in the context of clearing up the infection.
The resistance of populations to infection control measures was caused, among other things, by insufficient scientific communication. While learned communities and expert committees undoubtedly formulate important recommendations for action, they are often understandable only to experts and hardly visible to the public. It is difficult to process this knowledge for the majority of the population that is not trained in infection sciences and to make it accessible to people in a targeted manner.
To date, only a few scientists have devoted themselves to effective infection education and various media forms have been used only with reluctance at first. Knowledge gaps resulting from the initial lack of scientific communication were quickly filled by conspiracy theories and their dissemination through social media. And the misinformation spreads like the coronavirus itself: once it finds its host, it multiplies rapidly and is difficult to suppress.
Our author is Professor of Infection Biology at RWTH Aachen University. She alternates here with the philosopher Maria Sibylla Luther.
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