Health, demographic change and wellbeing - VAX-TRUST


vaxtrust.pngVAX-TRUST is a European project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 framework. It aims to address vaccine hesitancy in seven European target regions (Flanders, Helsinki, Malopolska, Lazio and Piedmont, Lisbon, Prague and Nottingham/East Midlands). The VAX-TRUST consortium consists of 10 partners and is coordinated by Dr. Pia Vuolanto (TAU University, Finland). The project will run from March 2021 until February 2024.

Project partners:
1) Tampere University (TAU, Finland)
2) Ghent University (UGent, Belgium)
3) Jagiellonian University (UJ, Poland)
4) University of Turin (UNITO, Italy)
5) Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa (ICS-ULisboa, Portugal)
6) Charles University (CUNI, Czech Republic)
7) University of Cassino and Southern Lazio (UNICLAM, Italy)
8) Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL, Portugal)
9) University of Nottingham (UNOTT, United Kingdom)
10) Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL, Finland)

Project description

Vaccines are widely recognized as one of the most successful public health interventions for preventing epidemics of infectious diseases, as well as for reducing mortality and morbidity. Yet an increasing number of individuals are reluctant to embrace vaccination whole-heartedly. They doubt the benefits of vaccines, raise concerns about their safety and efficacy and question the need for them. The idea that vaccines are losing their monument has raised concerns, since vaccine hesitancy may contribute to drops in vaccine uptake, which in turn has vast consequences for the effectiveness of vaccination programs.

Vaccine hesitancy is a particularly burning issue for healthcare professionals who face more and more challenges in building trust relationships with their patients. This reflects a broader societal phenomenon: the fiercely contested status of authorities and experts in contemporary societies. Healthcare professionals have to handle these contestations in their daily work. The VAX-TRUST project therefore aims to provide healthcare professionals the necessary tools to deal with the fiercely contested status of experts in present-day societies in the form of vaccine hesitant parents. An important point to consider in this regard is that healthcare professionals themselves are living and working in a world of distrust in science and expertise, and consequently may be reluctant themselves to recommend vaccines. Thus, the tools that will be developed should not only strengthen healthcare professionals’ capacity and knowledge to encounter vaccine hesitant parents, but they should also help them deal with the contradictions that their own doubts and reflections about vaccines might entail for their interactions with vaccine hesitant parents.


The overall objective of VAX-TRUST project is to gain a better understanding of vaccine hesitancy among parents and health professionals and based on this, to develop evidence-based interventions that should aid healthcare professionals in the challenges that they face in their interactions with vaccine hesitant parents.

More specific objectives are as follows:

  • To increase knowledge about vaccine hesitancy in specific European regions by reviewing existing studies, analyzing individual- and macro-level determinants of vaccine hesitancy and analyzing media coverage of vaccinations.
  • To better understand the role of healthcare professionals in (addressing) vaccine hesitancy by carrying out ethnographic observations of interactions between healthcare professionals and vaccine hesitant parent and by interviewing both healthcare professionals and vaccine hesitant parents.
  • To develop tailored interventions that should aid healthcare professionals in dealing with vaccine hesitant parents and to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions.
  • To develop readily implementable recommendations for healthcare authorities, professionals and policymakers.

Role of Ghent University

Ghent University takes the lead in Work Package 2 that aims to gain a better understanding of the individual and macro-level factors of vaccine hesitancy in Europe, and participates in all other work packages.




Prof. Piet Bracke
Department of Sociology
Phone Number: 09 264 68 03