4 Experts Share Their Advice on Overcoming Vaccine Misinformation

April 20, 2021

With the improved speed of COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the timeline for when the pandemic ends relies heavily on the public's willingness to get vaccinated. 

To help combat vaccination skepticism, we asked industry leading experts from across the space…. How can we best overcome vaccine hesitancy and misinformation to build trust and win over the public? 

There’s been such a big disconnect between facts and beliefs, the more information available the better. People have been distrustful of so much in the news, but the more they hear about real experiences and from trusted sources, the more comfortable and confident they have become about the vaccine. I think the medical community has really done a lot to help with consistent messaging across media outlets and platforms. It’s up to those of us who work in media to get those messages to end-users through trusted channels. 

Andrea Palmer, President, Publicis Health Media

The stark reality is that the communities who have suffered most and carried a disproportionate COVID burden are the very same communities who through a history of systemic trauma (including racism and neglect) have become distrustful. It is critical that any effort undertaken to overcome the challenges of vaccine hesitancy speak candidly and altruistically to their shared experience. This is the rate limiting step to beginning to prevent and displace the misinformation. Those who are vaccine hesitant need to hear the truth from committed credible messengers who engage them from a perspective of understanding the root cause of their distrust and who see them through a lens focused by a strong desire to shift the paradigm.

Khandra Tyler-Beynum, MD, Chief Medical Officer, CLIO Consulting LLC

Trust is at the root of hesitancy, and many people don’t yet have confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. This is especially true for communities of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and have greater hesitancy, due to historical and ongoing health inequities. The data currently shows that approximately 30% of the public say they will definitely get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and 20% say they won’t ever get vaccinated. Everyone else — approximately 50% of the public — fall somewhere in between those extremes. As we look at data from specific communities, particularly the Black and Hispanic communities, we see a higher rate of hesitancy and lower confidence in the information available about the vaccines. Currently, only 12% of Black Americans say they will get definitely vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and in both the Black and Hispanic communities our research shows that only 40% of individuals say they feel confident they have enough information to guide their decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccination, compared to 60% in the overall population. This underlines the incredible need to develop culturally resonant messaging to ensure all Americans receive the information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families about getting vaccinated. 

Throughout our efforts, we’ll be doing extensive social listening to monitor and identify misinformation and disinformation, so that we can optimize our highly vetted content and activate trusted messengers who resonate with different audiences to address it in real-time. Our efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccination will be wide-ranging and guided by extensive research every step of the way but getting accurate information out in front of the public is our number one priority. This should be the guiding light for all marketers who are working to combat misinformation and educate the public on COVID-19 vaccines.

Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer, The Ad Council

We all want to believe that people will change their minds when presented with “facts” and “data” but the truth is, we got to where we are today because of a deep feeling of mistrust in the government, the “system, and our communities. First we need to develop uniform messaging that transparently delivers the right amount of information while acknowledging the historical reasons for the mistrust and directly disputing false and incorrect information. Second, we need to make sure that messaging is delivered consistently and often by trusted individuals across all communities. This may start with celebrities and leaders at the national level, but it ultimately comes down to individuals, such as parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, taking personal ownership of communication within their own networks.

Angie Lee, Global Head of Brand and Marketing, Samsung Next

To get more insights from these thought leaders read PulsePoint’s latest special report: The Marketer’s Guide to Taking the Vaccine Viral.

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