Experts create ‘chatbot’ to address people’s concerns about Covid-19 vaccines

Published on Thursday 22 April 2021
Covid-19 vaccine

A team of experts are hoping to support members of the public who are hesitant about having a Covid-19 vaccination, and have developed an innovative new website to answer people’s questions and concerns.

Some estimates suggest that over 90% of the UK population need to take a Covid-19 vaccine to achieve herd immunity, but research from the University of Nottingham suggests that one in five British adults are uncertain about whether to have a vaccine.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have been looking at the reasons why people are unsure and have found that most people have very similar questions and concerns.

A team of experts from the Universities of Nottingham, Southampton,  Kings College London, and NIHR ARC Wessex, and led by Professor Kavita Vedhara from the School of Medicine at Nottingham, sought to answer these questions, by gathering information and evidence from independent experts working in the areas of immunology, vaccines and Covid-19.

Working with creative technology agency Rehab, the team have developed a website - COVIDVAXfacts.info - which they hope will help support people in making their decisions about having a vaccine.

The website provides up to date information on what we do and don’t know about the vaccines and allows people to explore the specific questions or concerns that matter to them. For example, the website includes information on the blood clot issue and also whether people can be vaccinated during Ramadan. The website was developed using research carried out and the University of Nottingham.

It also provides links to other websites, that the public may find helpful.

The ‘chatbot’ starts by asking the user a few questions to find out what they are most concerned about. It then has a ‘conversation’ with the user about this issue in an  objective, non-judgemental way, talking them through what is known and what isn’t, with scientific evidence presented in an accessible way.

The chatbot is able to store anonymous information on how the website is used which will help the team to understand which parts of the site work well and are used the most. This will allow them to continuously improve the site. The team are also hoping to secure funding to enable the site to be translated into different languages.

The website is free to use and available at: covidvaxfacts.info