Pharmaceutical companies in Pfizer as well as BioNtech both announced on the 20th of this month that they will seek emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a vaccine which will prevent Covd-19. On the 16th of November, Moderna announced the news that a vaccine which it has been working on has been shown to be close to being 95% effective.

But of course, vaccines can only be effective when people take them. A recent poll held in the US revealed that more than 40% Americans have claimed that they won’t take the Covd-19 vaccine once it comes out. Needless to say, such people aren’t just limited to the US – but are found all across the globe.

The factors which lead people to make such choices with respect to the vaccination program are nuanced. The choices that people make happen to be affected by how they see the world, their perceptions, whom they trust, the consistency with which they view the message and the convenience of getting their hands on the vaccine

In a world of course in which potentially there will be unlimited supplies of the Covd-19 vaccine as well as budget to support such an outreach, public officials could end up crafting highly specific claims for each community across the globe. The vaccine would also simultaneously be available to everyone and our personal doctors would administer it so as to assure us of its efficacy.

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Unfortunately enough though – such a world does not exist. Even when the vaccines come out in all their glory, they will bring about complications. As stated above, one major issue is that many people would straight out refuse the chance to get vaccinated. Another problem then is that even if people agree to the idea of getting vaccinated, the rollout will be less complicated.

And so, with the limited number of Covd-19 vaccine that we will have at our disposal in the near future, Healthcare officials need to make sure that the maximum number of people get themselves vaccinated so as to halt the pace with which the world approaches the Covd-19 disease. But, how can they do that?

Work within worldviews, identities and moral values

All the people that exist in the world and all that have existed have a unique set of identities, worldviews and moral values that have the capabilities to influence the choices as well as the behaviors of such said persons. Hence it is often important to understand what others see as right and wrong and to connect with what’s most important to them. In such circumstances, it is essential to find common ground between what you hope to achieve and what matters to people. For instance, taking a vaccine then would become a way to return to activities and behaviors that actually matter the most to them.

Use timing to the best advantage

It’s far easier to build trust when you’re the first person to articulate a particular message. It is often the case where people are most likely to trust as well as stick to the version of information that they happen to end up hearing first. It is perhaps as important then that such people hear the very same message multiple times from an array of sources.

The right messengers for the audience

Throughout the course of history, people have been known to act when they trust the messenger, the message, and the motivations that the messenger might or might not have. Trusted messengers vary greatly from community to community, but there are arguably some broad lessons that may be applicable. In an ideal situation, the messenger might be someone with deep expertise : a doctor, a scientist, or indeed a public health practitioner. However, trusted messengers might also be those people who are known to share the same values as us.

Make the content concrete, supply a narrative and provide value

If the messages given out aren’t exactly concrete and don’t include stories, then in all likelihood, our brains will fill the abstraction with stories as well as ideas that make sense to us. One specific space to build such a narrative is around the vaccine trials. Instead of just saying that “we’re in stage 3,” perhaps a better way might be to name the number of people that have participated in the trials and to share the stories of such people.

Understand that difference communities have different relationships with vaccination 

In some societies, there might be people who are actually fearful of vaccines however have a strong trust in authority. In other societies, it might be the case where mandatory vaccinations have brought about an element of distrust with regards to governmental authorities. In others, decades of mistreatment as well as exploitation might have resulted in a profound lack of trust in new medical treatments. All in all, it goes without saying : different societies have different relationships with authority. And so in all essence, it is important that people trust authority because they are more likely to accept the direction given – even if they don’t support it. 

Evoke the right emotions

While it is in fact tempting to activate emotions such as fear or shame so as to get people to take the vaccine, it is also the case that such tactics aren’t always likely to work. Fear has the ability to immobilize people while shame at the same time is likely to achieve the wrong direction. Hence it is then important to seek more constructive emotions such as awe, hope, and parental love in order to get people to act.


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