Valuing Vaccination: A multi-sited policy valuography


VALUING VACCINATION (VALUE-VACC) is a six-year research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). A research team led by Principal Investigator Katharina T. Paul explores the ways in which different actor groups assign value to vaccination - such as personal, social, economic, or ethical value. In particular, VALUE-VACC looks at valuing practices in policy programs, scientific research, social medial, primary care, and the pharmaceutical industry. 


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Project Abstract

Vaccines are one of the most effective forms of public health intervention, yet vaccine hesitancy is a growing concern worldwide. In seeking to address this policy problem, public health advocates emphasize the value of vaccination, expressing it in medical terms and metrics, such as in the number of lives saved or percentage of the population vaccinated. This narrow, specialist understanding of ‘value’ has exacerbated already polarized debates by failing to accommodate differences in valuation practices in the context of vaccination. Likewise, social scientists have largely focussed on vaccine hesitancy and, while recognizing the importance of values, they have not examined how valuations inform vaccination governance, and how, in turn, governance informs valuations of vaccination.

This study investigates how different actors value vaccination and which valuation repertoires they use to do this (scientific, economic, ethical, social, or personal). These repertoires, we hypothesize, both reflect and reproduce broader societal perceptions of governance. We examine valuation practices in five sites relevant to vaccination governance, with Austria as a paradigmatic case: policy programs, primary care, industry, scientific research, and social media. We ask: how do different actors assign value to vaccination and its governance, and how, in turn, do these valuations both reflect and produce particular forms of governance? To address these questions, we use expert interviews, biographical interviews with parents, ethnographic observations, desk research, and content analysis of Twitter data.