Dr. Heidi Larson: The importance of incorporating listening into an “epidemic of pandemic preparedness activities”

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Dr. Heidi Larson, the co-founder of the Global Listening Project and founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, joins Katherine to discuss the impacts of Covid-19 on global vaccine confidence and the importance of listening closely to people’s stories to better understand how individuals experience and navigate global health threats. Prior to the pandemic, nationally representative surveys suggested that many people accepted routine immunizations, but the explosion of information and misinformation about new Covid-19 vaccines has led more people to question the value of immunization programs, and coverage has gone down. The pandemic has also negatively affected social cohesion, with the World Economic Forum 2022 Risk Report showing a nearly 30% decline since early 2020. Noting that we have all experienced a kind of trauma over the past three years, Heidi argues that it’s essential to enable people to tell their own stories of survival if we want to prepare, as a society, for future shocks and crises. The Global Listening Project aims to capture people’s experiences and develop an index of public readiness to inform the public so that future interventions will be more relevant to people’s lives.

Dr. Heidi Larson is a Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science and is the Founding Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is the author of STUCK: How Vaccine Rumors Start – and Why They Don’t Go Away.
Katherine E. Bliss
Senior Fellow and Director, Immunizations and Health Systems Resilience, Global Health Policy Center