Why won’t they just vaccinate? An emerging infectious disease risk communication workshop

Professional development


Thursday 23 February


Tower Room


Jennifer Manyweathers

PhD Candidate

Centre for Health Research, Western Sydney University

PhD Candidate

Centre for Science Communication, Faculty of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia


Limited capacity, RSVPs essential.

As new diseases continue to emerge, adoption of risk mitigation strategies relies on clear, timely, proactive communication. However, discourse between various publics and authorities can become mired in distrust, resulting in outbreaks of increased severity and duration, wasted resources, and lost opportunities for participatory risk mitigation planning and discussion.

This workshop, based on research into an actual emerging infectious disease outbreak spreading from animals to humans in Australia, examines differing worldviews of stakeholders involved, and provides a platform for discussion of the role of risk perception and authority. It provides an opportunity for participants to view scientific research and risk communication from different and realistic perspectives.

Using real data, workshop participants will be divided into 4 stakeholder groups: scientists who develop a protective vaccine, the pharmaceutical company that manufacture it, vets who administer the vaccine and animal owners who elect whether to vaccinate their animals or not. Advancing through the disease outbreak scenario, stakeholders will receive progressively more information and be required to make key decisions and deliberate on communication approaches. A brief summary of the key stages of the communication surrounding the actual disease outbreak on which the workshop is based will be provided.

The principles considered within this workshop will be applicable to any discourse around risk and mitigation, broadening participants’ understanding of possible approaches to risk communication.


J. Manyweathers1,2*, N. Longnecker2,3, M. Taylor1,4

1 Centre for Health Research, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia

2 Centre for Science Communication, Faculty of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

3 Centre for Science Communication, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

4 Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


*Corresponding Author