The Disinformation Games

Your safe space for games and challenges related to misinformation and disinformation!

Case study: The Vaccination Problem

Vaccination is a topic of paramount social importance. We live longer and healthier lives, and medical research and innovation have been a driver for this for many years. Vaccination is one of the most important pillars of public health, but they also raise a lot of concern. In many countries some vaccines are mandatory. Where is the truth? What are the real choices we have - as individuals and as a society? How can we make sure that we have an informed opinion on this topic?

The Vaccination Problem

Recommended for: high school students, university students, adults

Available building blocks6

Tags: vaccines, healthcare, conspiracy theories, disinformation, eradicated diseases, herd immunity, religious beliefs

Tips for educators

Building block 3. Profiles of pro/anti-vaxxers

Who are the antivaxxers? What determines the negative attitude to vaccination? What is the relation between social status, level of education and the opinion on vaccination? What is the impact of social media?

Suggested resources

1. Reasons for opting out of vaccines [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
An interview focused on vaccine hesitancy. Contains an infographic and external links to studies.

2. Еxamples from doctor's practice related to the profilie of anti-vaxxers   [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]

3. What makes some parents fall for anti-vaccine messaging - on vaccines vs liberty and purity [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
Medium-length read. The resource outlines the gap between public health messages and how personal values and beliefs shape our attitude towards vaccines.

4. The starting point was the Wakefield study - history and reasoning of antivaxxers  [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
Long read. Contains many links to external corroborating resources which may or may not be followed for the purposes of the case study. Contains scientific language.

5. Pro-v vs anti-v logics over how to use a bridge [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
A very short article containing a few screenshots illustrating opinions and arguments.

6. Social networking platform, vaccine hesitancy and the epidemy of stupid [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
Long read. A thorough analysis of social media as information and communication medium with regard to vaccination and vaccines. Contains many links to external corroborating resources which may or may not be followed for the purposes of the case study. Contains relevant screenshots and video.

7. Anti-vaxxers on the offensive on what they say is a vaccine propaganda hoax [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]

One of the images is posted on FB and here is the post and the comments on it:  [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]

8. An FB page with vaccine-related content by anti-vaxx activists [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]


The vacca cartoon

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes represent the competences which learners are expected to develop as a result of the training intervention:

1. The learner will be able to understand that there are various reasons for opting-out vaccination.
2. The learner will be able to recognise that personal freedom of choice needs to be balanced with the public interest with regard to vaccination.
3. The learner will be able to differentiate between rational and emotional statements and arguments.
4. The learner will be able to analyse and evaluate the social implications of the choice to vaccinate or not.


Suggested teaching methods

> Searching for information
> Brainstorming
> Form opinions and formulate arguments
> Identify and list characteristic features of each profile - pro/anti-vaxxer
> Group discussion and asking questions
> Apply source and fact checking to a set of resources
> Re-evaluate

Suggested learning activities

> Introduce the existence of opposing stances. Ask if there are learners who support either of the ideas and instruct them to form 2 groups.

> Prepare for a role-play, possibly based on real division of opinions. Do research for extending reasoning of either of the positions. Present why vaccination is/is not to be mandatory. Discuss whether and why "anti-vaxxer" might be taken as a pejorative label (#6, pic #1). Suggested use of sources #4, 5, 8 and pic #1.

> Alternatively, divide in two groups and prepare to defend the two stances. Do some research on their historical background (#4, pic #1). Talk about the effect of labeling and bias in writing news and articles.

> Mind-map or brainstorm on the consequences of opting-out mandatory vaccination (#3). Discuss the role of public information channels.

> Discuss the credibility of source #2 and how it could be verified.

> Follow the story in resource #7. Have a quick round of discussion about the arguments and their plausibility. How doe this attempt at source-checking and fact-checking compare to the Eggshell model?

> Let them prepare their reasoning by suggesting sources and/or internet research. Ask them to note the type of sources they use to form their opinions.

> Ask each of the group to present their position. Make sure they listen and respect the others' opinion.

> Discuss the credibility of the sources. Which of them and why is the most trustworthy according to the learners?

De Facto pillars

Motivated Cognition: Ask learners to think about and attempt to explain what shapes their opinion. This exercise is not necessarily linked to the case study topic. It could start there, but allow and encourage spill-overs - the objective is to get as many insights as possible, so be creative about it.

Motivated Cognition, Frames and Framing: In the sources listed for this building block, are there any public figures that shape the opinions? Who are these public figures, what is common among them, and what could be their motivation for defending their position as it is?

Additional online tools

Mindmapping software online (free):


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