A panel of social and behavioral scientists coordinated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a report titled “COVID-19 Vaccination Communication: Applying Behavioral and Social Science to Address Vaccine Hesitancy and Foster Vaccine Confidence.” The report, led by the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), outlines research-based strategies to communicate the importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine while addressing the challenges of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. The strategies laid out in this report are largely based on the fundamentals of communication research while including specific considerations for individuals at highest risk of contracting the virus such as healthcare workers and older adults.
Some of the strategies included in the report are:
- Using accurate and transparent messaging without exaggeration;
- Provoking positive emotions rather than negative emotions in messaging;
- Corresponding through trusted sources of information to the target audience;
- Framing vaccination as a social norm;
- Reaching out early to those that are hesitant about vaccines to help form their views; and
- Build trust slowly with those who mistrust vaccines through compassion and empathy with the goal to encourage vaccinations in the future.
The report is available on the OBSSR website.