As a healthcare marketer, your ability to guide communication and messaging strategy has likely been put to the test throughout COVID.
Determining which difficult conversations to tackle first with patients - and how - can be daunting. When it comes to addressing topics like vaccine misinformation, the messenger matters. A common denominator throughout socioeconomic communities: people trust their doctor. When we're able to combine strategic messaging with deep clinical expertise, our physicians have incredible power to make lasting, positive change in our communities.
Here are a few things to consider as you put together a COVID vaccine communications strategy.
Find Common Ground
Mistrust of vaccines is not a new concept in American culture. According to a 1954 GALLUP poll, only 31% of Americans were interested in receiving a free Polio vaccine. This is similar to the sentiment in the August 2020 GALLUP poll - where only 30% of Americans were interested in receiving a free COVID vaccine.
People who don't want to receive vaccines (commonly referred to as "anti-vaxxers") often take this stance out of a desire to keep their family safe. Their viewpoint stems from deep values or sometimes fear.
Before creating a plan, take a moment to acknowledge or understand your patients' perspectives. This exercise allows you to start from a place of empathy - which is important because people are more likely to accept information from those who share it with good intention.
Address Common Concerns
It's easier to address your patients' misconceptions about vaccinations if you can anticipate their questions, and prepare ahead of time.
Be ready to answer or correct common misconceptions, like:
- Once I am vaccinated, I no longer need to wear a mask
- The vaccination contains harmful, metallic, or otherwise hazardous materials
- Vaccinations are ineffective
- Vaccinations can cause other diseases (like autism, allergies, or COVID itself)
It's important to validate patient concerns, especially those around safety.
Share reliable resources with your patients to explore in their own time:
- The Verified Initiative - A partnership between the United Nations and The Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida that works to combat vaccine misinformation.
- The National Vaccine Compensation Program - This powerful transparency tool was created in the 1980's. Patients can discover the rate at which citizens are harmfully impacted by vaccines (for example, between 2006 and 2018, 1 person was compensated through this program for every 1 million vaccines administered).
Share Real Stories and Experiences
One of the easiest ways to create a brand voice that's authentic is by communicating with transparency. Don't be afraid to tell patients about the flawed history of vaccines in your blogs or social posts. Let your staff or physicians share firsthand why they believe getting the vaccine is currently the best choice, and why.
Then encourage your patients to talk about their experience - before and after receiving the vaccine. Finding common ground and sharing real stories through a trustworthy source can often help those who have been misinformed.
At CMG Health Marketing, we're here to support you - whether it's creating the right message or finding the best way to deliver it. Contact us today if we can help.