Professor Heidi J. Larson is the Founding Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project and Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Clinical Professor, Department of Health Metrics Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle; and Guest Professor at the University of Antwerp and at KULeuven, Belgium. Her research focuses on the analysis of social and political factors and the management of risks and rumors. Her current research is particularly focused on issues around public cooperation during emergencies – disease outbreaks, natural disasters, terrorism, and conflict. The Vaccine Confidence Project™ (VCP) began by developing a system for the early detection of public concerns about vaccines. The VCP collects data and applies a diagnostic tool to determine the risk level as to whether those concerns could disrupt vaccine programs and uptake. Our insights guide when and how to respond in order to build and sustain confidence. Through the Vaccine Confidence Index™ (VCI), they map confidence to inform strategies for immunization programs so human and financial resources can be designed for and with the communities they serve. The VCP has learned that a vast majority of the challenges around vaccine confidence have little to do with the vaccines themselves. Rather, the vaccine confidence challenge is a window into the broader issues of our polarized society. The consequences of this divisiveness are immense for trust across society – for governments, for business, and for the functioning of human society. In order to address this growing divide, we are building on the learnings of the VCP to now launch to find actionable solutions to build mutual trust and narrow the caverns that divide us.

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