Vaccines & Fake News: Analysing Measles Outbreaks 2019

Category: Innovation (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: Outriders

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 11 Jun 2019

Credit: Written by journalist Lola García-Ajofrín; designed by designer Anano Sharashenidze (ForSet), Art Director Irakli Chumburidze (ForSet) and data Visualisation: Mariam Gamkharashvili (ForSet); developed by Piotr Kliks and edited by Grzegorz Kurek.

Project description:

Vaccines & Fake news’ is an interactive story of Outriders written by journalist Lola García-Ajofrín; designed by designer Anano Sharashenidze (ForSet), Art Director Irakli Chumburidze (ForSet) and data Visualisation: Mariam Gamkharashvili (ForSet); developed by Piotr Kliks and edited by Grzegorz Kurek.

Even though it is a vaccine-preventable disease, measles kills over 100,000 people every year. Worldwide cases tripled in the first three months of 2019. The aim of this interactive story is analizying vaccine skepticism and trying to give answer to the main concers using an attractive design.We wanted to listen both sides of story and give answers.


Impact reached:

Vaccines & Fake news’ is an interactive article that have five sections: 1. Measles inmunization: Are we protected? 2. Measles Outbreak Globally. 3. Vaccine Skepticsm & Polulism. 4. Case Study: France, The Most Vaccine Seceptic and 5. Experts answer 23 concerns about vaccines.

We consider a must to explain who inmunization works and giving answer to concerns because during the interviews we realizaed that even most of the poupulation was vaccinated against several disseases, most of them don’t know which vaccines they have, how do they work and why are they important.

The article was published in English and in Polish. Poland had the most significant drop in confidence between 2015 and 2018, according to Heidi Larson from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who runs The Vaccine Confidence Project.

The article was published also in two versions: a larger version for desktop and an insta story for mobile version.

One of the main parts of the article is the section: Extperts answer 23 common concerns about vaccines. Here the reader can chose and click a virus and reply the main concerns about vaccines like: What do vaccines contain? Do vaccines contain aluminium? Why? Do vaccines contain mercury?  a vaccine contains pork gelatin, can I be vaccinated even if my religion doesn’t allow me to eat pork/meat?  Do vaccines have side effects? Can measles vaccine cause autism?

For us, it was specially important to listen skeptic parents, understanding their concerns and trying to use facts to reply that concerns.

We used a showy design of virus because we wanted as much as possible people read some information that they would not read in reports.


Techniques/technologies used:

The interactive artcile include a fifth part with ‘clickable’ viruses where the reader can choose and click a virus and answer main concerns about vaccines: https://outride.rs/en/vaccines-fake-news/experts-answer-common-concerns-about-vaccines

We think this part is specially innovative because the design makes the reader want to continue clicking viruses and reading answers.

We also believe that it is a brave article where controversial worries are not hidden or avoided.

Experts from Institut Pasteur in Paris, World Health Organization and The Vaccine Confidence Project reply the common concerns that fake news have expanded around the world regarding the components of vaccines, side effects and their compatibility with religious beliefs.

The result is an interactive article with interactive virus that you can click and reply your main concerns on vaccines.

What was the hardest part of this project?

This article is a work of months analyzing information, talking with people and writing an article that tells scientific data in a simple manner.

Firsly we wanted to show that vaccines skepticism was not a new phenenomenon but we found there was already demostrations at the end of the 19th century when between 1840 and 1853, compulsory vaccination was established by the government of England.

Secondly we wanted to explain complex data in the simpliest way. That it was specially important to explain inmunization and the so called “herd protection”, when a group of people (the “herd”) can avoid a disease infection by ensuring that enough people are immune so that a chain of transmission is broken.

After interviewing several vaccine-skeptic partents in France we found that some parents living in a wealthy places and socio-economic situations think that if their children follow hygienic life patterns with healthy eating they don’t need vaccines. This is a common mistake and we spent several days discussing how to explain the “herd protection”.

Thirdly we wanted to explain that vaccines are not an individual issue but a social issue or what Frederick Tangy called: “Vaccines are social justice”. For this reason we mapped Measles inmunization around te world and we mapped “vaccine trust”.

And finally, in one of the key parts of this story, we replied the main concerns that vaccine skeptic families have. We consider specially important this part because we found than most of the article critize skepticism without listeing the concerns and parent who want the best for their children need reasons.

We would appreciate that jury understand that every part in this story was designed to give answers.


What can others learn from this project?

It is interesting that although vaccines have saved millions of lives and are part of the lives of each of us, most people do not know what vaccines they have, what vaccines are mandatory or recommended in their countries, which components vaccines have and how they work. This article gives a simple answer to all these questions.

Project links: