Topic 6: Vaccine hesitancy and the search for moral foundations

Photo by Myriam Zilles from

14:00 – 16:00 Saturday 24 August

A&S Bücherland | Rintheimer Str 19. | 76131 Karlsruhe – Oststadt


Vaccine hesitancy has been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019 [i]. At the same time, measles rates are rising in Germany [ii], across Europe [iii] and at a global level [i].

In response to this, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health has just approved a draft bill making measles vaccination compulsory and imposing penalties for non-compliance [iv]. While groups such as Germany’s paediatricans’ society welcomed the move [v], there are also concerns that a punitive approach could create greater backlash from families oppositional to vaccines [vi].

When (against all myth-busting odds) promoting objective fact is no longer enough, will understanding the moral drivers behind the anti-vax movement help to increase vaccination rates? This month, we take a look at moral foundations theory (MFT), and whether we can apply this to the reasoning behind the anti-vax movement. What does MFT tell us about the anti-vax mentality? If the theory holds, what does this mean for the latest measures toward mandatory vaccinations in Germany?

Background reading (<5 minutes):
1. The 6 moral foundations identified in MFT, listed here:
2. Common myths fuelling the anti-vax movement:


A&S Bücherland have kindly agreed to host this meetup. Attendees are encouraged to make a 5€ contribution to assist with the venue’s running costs. Additionally, the venue has tea and coffee facilities and a selection of drinks are also available for us to purchase.

[i] World Health Organisation. (2019). Ten health issues WHO will tackle this year. Available at: [Accessed 1 Aug. 2019].

[ii] AP News. (2019). Germany mulls fines to boost measles vaccination rates. Available at:[Accessed 1 Aug. 2019].

[iii] The Local. (2019). German Parliament to consider compulsory vaccination laws. Available at: [Accessed 1 Aug. 2019].

[iv] Bundesministerium für Gesundheit. (2019). Bundesgesundheitsminister Jens Spahn: „Wir wollen möglichst alle Kinder vor einer Masernansteckung bewahren“. Available at: [Accessed 1 Aug. 2019].

[v] Medical Express. (2019). Germany makes measles vaccination compulsory for children. Available at: [Accessed 1 Aug. 2019].

[vi] The Conversation. (2013). History shows mandatory vaccines aren’t the answer for reluctant parents. Available at: [Accessed 1 Aug. 2019].

Photo by Myriam Zilles from



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