University Students and Vaccinations: A Challenge for Universities and Health Care Authorities


The controversies around vaccines have been in the spotlight over the years, particularly in the public arena. The case of the Italian vaccination fierce controversies was particularly worrying in a period (2017) when a new law introducing mandatory vaccine schedules for children was submitted to Parliament. 705 Italian university students belonging to medical curricula (paediatricians, pharmacists), midwives, psychologists, educators, were asked to fill out a questionnaire about salient issues about vaccines (myths, confidence, conspiracy, parent’s free choice, individualistic and competitive positions about decision making), and their personal vaccination history (mandatory vaccination received). While these issues have been studied in terms of people’s characteristics, the paper aims at showing their socio-cognitive organization, in terms of an integrated representational field, according to the socio-psychological approach. MCA analysis allowed a well-organized representational field of students’ representations of vaccination and their relationships with students’ vaccination histories, sensitivity to social rumors and social media, and Science as the instrument for eradicating vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD). The results show clusters of favourable vs negative positions that are modulated by the respect of mandatory vaccine schedules and the students’ curricula. Medical students are closed to individualism and competition, characteristics of liberal professions; less prone to myths; no conspiracy, nor the parents’ free choice. Psychology and Education students do not share these positions and are more prone to myths, conspiracy, rumors, and parents’ free choice. Medical students are more distant and disinterested in vaccine-specific topics than their humanities peers. Midwives share an intermediate position. A socio- psychological approach to vaccine issues vs an individual cognitive one offers a better understanding of complex and dilemmatic vaccine issues. Implications for improving the organization of medical and humanities university curricula are discussed.

Carugati F., Selleri P. (2023) "University Students and Vaccinations: A Challenge for Universities and Health Care Authorities " Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 15(1), 29-50. DOI: 10.14658/PUPJ-IJSE-2023-1-2  
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Italian Journal of Sociology of Education
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