Monday, February 7, 2022

[SHAME ON CIVIS FOR FOCUSING ON PERSUASION AND NOT VACCINE DATA] The remaining mile: How do you persuade uncertain Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Almost a year after the first COVID-19 vaccines came to market at historic speed, nearly 34% of the eligible U.S. population (those 12 years of age and older) remains fully unvaccinated. In many communities, the number is much higher. 

In stark contrast to early 2021, when a vaccine appointment was coveted by many and the primary challenge was meeting public demand, vaccination rates across the U.S. have largely plateaued. This pattern is typical of many public health outreach campaigns. An influx of early adopters eager to embrace a product or service causes uptake rates to surge, but soon adoption begins to taper. Not long after that, campaigns run into the most challenging phase: reaching the last few people.

Over the last year, Civis conducted several COVID-19 vaccine message tests to understand what message themes were most persuasive, and which might backfire. In the spring of 2021, before the Delta variant emerged in the U.S. and when vaccine mandates had not yet been implemented, we found that messages highlighting experiences that are off-limits to unvaccinated individuals (such as concerts or international travel) or emphasizing personal choice were most persuasive. 

This latest research tested some of the same messaging frameworks from the spring as well as a few new strategies. As you’ll see in this research, the most persuasive messages have changed. Continuing to use the same strategies deployed at the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in order to reach the remaining individuals simply won’t work.