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In times of emergency, like during a pandemic, getting accurate information and making informed decisions is crucial. But how do people learn about vaccines and share their experiences with others?

A recent study conducted in Australia investigated how adults who were vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who were not felt about talking to others about vaccines. The aim was to help understand if people felt comfortable sharing their vaccine experiences and opinions with their peers, and if this kind of communication could change people’s understanding and behaviours.

Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 40 people across Australia. Of those participants, 33 had been vaccinated while the rest were either unvaccinated and/or had no plans to get vaccinated.

The study found that those who were vaccinated were open to promoting the vaccine and correcting any misinformation. They felt empowered after receiving the vaccine and believed in the importance of talking to others about it. They thought both peer-to-peer communication and community messages were necessary for a successful vaccination campaign and that communication between family and friends had a strong persuasive power. But something different was observed for those who were unvaccinated. They didn’t think community messaging was effective and expressed a desire to make their own decisions instead of following what others said.

The findings suggest that during emergencies like a pandemic, it may be helpful for governments, community organisations and healthcare practices to encourage peer-to-peer communication among people motivated to share their story, who can play an important role in sharing their experiences and correct any misconceptions. The researchers argue this kind of approach might work on other healthcare issues too.

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