Vaccine Messages That Are Too Strong Backfire With Opponents – What can be done to make it better?
With the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the continuous rise of the delta form, governments throughout the world have redoubled their efforts to persuade holdouts to get vaccinated. President Joe Biden announced new vaccine mandates on Sept. 9, 2021, expressing impatience with vaccine skeptics, saying, “We’ve been patient, but our tolerance is wearing thin.” And it has cost us all because of your refusal.”
As a communication scientist who has spent the last 30 years researching the effects of media and health campaigns, I am concerned that a frenzy of vaccination advertising may make the vaccine skeptics even more resistant. The straight, harsh messages to be vaccinated that worked for three-quarters of Americans may not work for the other one-quarter of the population. They might, in fact, backfire.
According to research, depending on the audience, some health communication approaches are more effective than others. It’s a lesson that legislators, as well as members of the media, industry, and even parents and relatives, can learn from.
There are five types of people who embrace new ideas and habits, according to research: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. It’s down to the last two COVID-19 vaccines, and they’re the most resistant to alteration.
This group of unvaccinated persons is large – about 80 million people in the United States are vaccination eligible but have not been vaccinated – and they are the ones who can help the United States attain herd immunity. However, research indicates that these are also the ones who will be offended by strong prodding to be vaccinated.
People are typically influenced by public health messaging, although not necessarily in the desired direction. I spoke in front of the United States Congress in 1999 about how powerful anti-drug messaging may be driving youngsters on to drugs rather than away from them. Similarly, existing vaccine messaging may be provoking resistance rather than cooperation due to its aggressive tone.
Consider this title from a recent editorial in the New York Times: “Get Masked.” Vaccinate yourself. It’s the Only Way to Get Out of Here.” This comes after 18 months of public-health messages imploring individuals to stay at home, wash their hands, and keep their distance from others.
Although well-intentioned, research in health communication suggests that such directive communications might be seen as a “high threat,” implying that they threaten the message receiver’s free will by telling them what to do. Yes, they are. Brief News from Washington Newsday.