A team of experts are hoping to support members of the public who are hesitant about having a COVID-19 vaccination, and have developed an innovative new website to answer people’s questions and concerns.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham have been looking at the reasons why some people are unsure about the vaccine and have found that most have very similar questions and concerns.
A team of experts from the Universities of Nottingham, Southampton, Kings College London, and NIHR ARC Wessex, and led by Professor Kavita Vedhara from the School of Medicine at Nottingham, sought to answer these questions, by gathering information and evidence from independent experts working in the areas of immunology, vaccines and Covid-19.
The result of their work is the COVIDVAXfacts.info website which launched on 21 April 2021.
Professor Kavita Vedhara said:
“There is a lot of information and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and it can be hard to know where to look and who to trust. We have tried to develop a ‘one-stop shop’ that will provide information about the most common issues raised by the UK public. Our aim is to give people the information that will help them make an informed choice. Having a COVID-19 vaccine is a choice and everyone deserves a chance to have access to the information that will help them make that choice.”
The new website provides up to date information on what we do and don’t know about the vaccines and allows people to explore the specific questions or concerns that matter to them. For example, the website includes information on the blood clot issue and also whether people can be vaccinated during Ramadan. The website was developed using research carried out and the University of Nottingham.
The ‘chatbot’ starts by asking the user a few questions to find out what they are most concerned about. It then has a ‘conversation’ with the user about this issue in an objective, non-judgmental way, talking them through what is known and what isn’t, with scientific evidence presented in an accessible way.
The chatbot is able to store anonymous information on how the website is used which will help the team to understand which parts of the site work well and are used the most. This will allow them to continuously improve the site. The team are also hoping to secure funding to enable the site to be translated into different languages.
Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham, is one of the researchers who has helped to develop the content of the website.
“Vaccine roll-out is making a real difference in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases, so much so that a COVID-free future here in the UK is a real possibility. However, to achieve that we need as many people who are eligible to receive the vaccine to go and get the jab. Yes, people have real concerns about the vaccine and there is a lot of misinformation out there. That’s why this website is so important as it acts as a one-stop shop to answer those burning questions about COVID vaccine safety.”
The website is free to use and available at: covidvaxfacts.info