Ian Roe and Takuto Shiota, I Boost Immunity

A year ago we launched I Boost Immunity, a fun new website featuring a series of online quizzes designed to help raise literacy about immunization. The site pairs local learning with global giving: for every quiz question answered correctly, a vaccine is donated to a child in support of UNICEF Canada. Thanks to people like you, I Boost Immunity was an instant success!

To help celebrate Immunization Awareness Week (April 22-29), we’d like to return the favour. After a year of collecting anonymous data from answers to over 500,000 questions, some interesting patterns started to emerge. As most of our users tend to be very supportive of immunization already (including many health workers), this made some of our findings all that more surprising.

Let’s take a look at a few results from the past year:

1. The economic impact of vaccines is underestimated

Q – For every $1 invested in vaccination, developing countries get a direct return of:

A – $16

This question was answered incorrectly 46% of the time. When users answer the same question in a later quiz, this falls to 37%. Thirty percent of respondents answered $5 underestimating the impact of vaccines considerably.

The take-away? We are clearly not talking enough about the economic benefits of vaccines!

2. HPV is much more common than some people assume

Q – About ___ % of sexually active people will get at least one human papillomavirus (HPV) infection at some time in their lives.

A – 75%

Answered incorrectly by underestimating the figure 56% of the time.

This was quite surprising – again, considering our pro-vaccine audience. Clearly the ubiquity of HPV distinguishes it from many other sexually transmitted infections.

3. Even people that support immunization are sometimes uninformed about the importance of vaccine schedules

Q – Spacing out vaccines will cause fewer side effects.

A – False

Answered incorrectly 41% of the time.  When users answer the same question in a later quiz, this falls to 15%.

What’s unsettling about is that this myth is that it comes straight out of the anti-vax playbook. Indeed, this fiction has become so widespread that it can even infect a pro-vax community.

4. Meningitis is not well understood

Q – There are vaccines that can protect against some diseases that can lead to viral meningitis.

A – True

Answered incorrectly 49% of the time.

Many of our questions about meningitis had similar results to this leading us to conclude that not only are people uninformed about the differences between bacterial and viral meningitis – they are wholly unaware of the vaccines available to prevent infection.

Do you any of these topics surprise you?  The silver lining to these findings is that it helps us to understand some of the most fruitful topics to focus on in terms of education.  What is also encouraging is that our users not only believe strongly that vaccines are safe, the more questions they answer, the more knowledgable they become about the importance of immunization for themselves and their kids.

Think you know a lot about vaccination? Then try one of our toughest immunization quizzes: ‘Do you know nursing’? Once you sign up it’s easy to ‘learn and earn’. You will have access to over 800 questions about vaccines and the diseases they prevent earning one vaccine in support of UNICEF for every correct answer. To learn more, go to www.iboostimmunity.com