Public resistance towards scientific claims regarding vaccine safety is widely thought to stem from public misunderstanding (or ignorance) of science. Repeated failures to alleviate this ignorance make the problem of vaccine hesitancy seem intractable. I challenge this presumption of knowledge deficit and reinterpret vaccine hesitancy to be a problem of public mistrust of scientific experts and institutions. This finding invites new corrective measures: self-scrutiny by our scientific and governmental bodies regarding their own credibility as well as investment in dialogical rather than didactic communicative outreach to vaccine hesitant members of the public. Without the oppositional framing of the problem as a conflict of science versus ignorance, there is more room for conciliation of public health agendas with the concerns of the lay public.

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