4 ways to address vaccine hesitancy
Take it one patient at a time and offer facts in bite-sized pieces
Instead of juggling vaccine waiting lists, you’re facing a new problem: How do you let your community know that vaccination is the safest choice? We went to the United Facts of America—a Festival of Fact-Checking to hear from experts in healthcare, technology and media about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s what we learned.
- Take it one patient at a time. Use social media, live chats, or Zoom town halls. Reach out to underserved communities where they gather. Be prepared to counter misinformation with facts—and remember to listen.
“I say ‘I need to understand your why—or why not,’” explains Daniel Fagbuyi, MD, emergency medicine physician and former member of the National Biodefense Science Board. Then he can start to unravel any misunderstandings.
Dr. Dan’s advice: Be prepared for negative comments. And even if an individual isn’t convinced, your audience will learn from your response.
- Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Coffey’s Digital Content Hub is full of fresh takes on popular health topics and our Social Tool offers new suggestions every week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t repost your favorites. Social media readers typically aren’t scrolling down your feed to judge your originality—and people often need to hear a message multiple times before they take action.
- Catch their eye. Ethan Porter, PhD, associate professor at George Washington University, says experiments have shown that fact-checks work to help people recognize false information. That’s true across the political spectrum and in most age groups. The deciding factor? Attention. Distilling key facts into bite-sized pieces and adding a visual image increases effectiveness among people who aren’t interested in a deep dive, explains Emily Thorson, PhD, assistant professor at the Syracuse University.
- Check in at checkups. Primary care providers know their patients’ specific health concerns, and they’re in the best position to help patients make the best choice. To help your providers answer common questions about COVID-19 vaccines, give them some talking points in response to common concerns:
- Vaccine side effects are usually minor, and they don’t last long. But COVID-19 has serious consequences, even for people without preexisting conditions.
- The vaccines went through clinical trials to make sure they are safe and effective. The government didn’t cut corners—it cut the red tape.
- The vaccines work extremely well to keep people from getting sick with COVID-19.
- There’s no cost to patients for the vaccines. That’s true whether or not you have insurance.
If your providers are comfortable, encourage them to share that they chose to be vaccinated themselves, and it’s what they recommend to their friends and family.
Direct mail matters
There’s a lot of conflicting information in the news, online and in your readers’ social circles. It’s hard to know what to believe—and most people are too busy to seek out more information.
Your custom magazine reaches community members in their homes, and it’s full of news from their local hospital, a source they can rely on to put their health first.
Physicians can share their experiences and let readers know why they recommend the vaccine. Patient stories aren’t just a great way to highlight your hospital’s care—they help readers connect the facts to real people in their communities.
Count on Coffey
Coffey is a full-service healthcare marketing firm with decades of industry experience. We’re here to support you through every stage of the pandemic with expert insight into compelling print content, up-to-date COVID-19 hubs and page banners for your website, and social media plans tailored to your community. Let us make your job easier.