Vaccination is an explicit topic of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The present article explores a new way of involving student teachers into the vaccination debate. To this aim, 273 students at a Swiss university for teacher education were invited to read a debate between a vaccination proponent and a vaccination opponent that had been published in a free local newspaper. Then, they were asked to judge five of the main arguments of each discussant and to take a (hypothetical) general decision in favor or against vaccination. This decision, the judgements, and students’ comments were investigated with a mixed method approach in order to better understand the students’ needs and to refine the new approach. It was found that the students eagerly took part in the intervention, but that they were very ambivalent concerning the arguments. They could be classified into three groups. Two groups, called the acceptors and the rejectors, supported the proponent and the opponent, respectively, and decided accordingly in favor or against vaccination. However, there remained a considerably large group that was called the hesitators. They were particularly ambivalent towards both types of argumentation, but, as structural equation modelling revealed, they eventually were more influenced by the arguments in favor than by those against vaccination. In their comments, these students wanted to know more about the prevented diseases, and they often referred to their personal experience but not to the experts’ arguments. It was concluded that this group would benefit most from the new type of intervention. A shared-decision approach, as is today prominently discussed in medicine, could improve its impact, and ways should be found to more seriously and consistently include empathetic understanding in pedagogical settings—for example, by adapting the three-step model from medicine or the reflective equilibrium approach from applied ethics.
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