On Thursday, United States of Care (USofCare) released a fact sheet about the COVID-19 vaccines in reaction to a congressional hearing about social media’s role in the spread of misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic. Appearing before the virtual joint hearing were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
“It is not hyperbole to suggest that our ability to police against the intentional spread of anti-vaccine disinformation and misinformation has life-or-death implications. The American people need to receive reliable, accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Natalie Davis, co-Founder and Managing Director, Public Engagement, United States of Care. “At USofCare, we recognize that people have important questions about the vaccine, and they deserve empathetic, straightforward answers as they consider if the vaccine is right for them. That’s why today, we are highlighting essential facts about the COVID-19 vaccines in response to today’s hearing. As research makes clear, the American people – across all demographics and political persuasions – want accurate information they can rely on to keep themselves and their families safe. Building confidence starts by meeting people where they are and encouraging them to seek the information they need from their doctors so they can make their personal choice to take the vaccine.”
Addressing People’s Questions: COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness And Safety
Vaccine enthusiasm increases with a set of straightforward, factual messages about the vaccines’ effectiveness.
People become more confident about the vaccine when they learn that:
- Vaccines are “highly effective in preventing illness”
- Vaccines will “prevent them (the message recipient) from getting sick”
- Vaccines “will prevent more people from becoming sick and prevent more deaths.”
- Nearly all doctors who have been offered the vaccine have taken it.
Do not shame or label people for having concerns, and do not coerce or guilt them into taking it.
Simple, factual, empathetic messages also go far in addressing specific concerns about vaccines’ short and long-term safety.
- Using simple easy to understand terms to describe the safety review process by the FDA and safety boards is a strong way to clearly address concerns. Messaging example: “The speed of the vaccines’ development was due to reducing administrative bureaucracy, not bypassing any safety precautions. We didn’t cut corners on safety. We cut red tape.”
- Explaining the comprehensiveness of vaccine studies is also very helpful in addressing concerns about safety. Messaging example: “The final clinical trials included tens of thousands of people. None died or got hospitalized.”
- Facts about the infrequency of reactions and realities of side-effects are also found to be helpful. Messaging example: “The likelihood of a serious reaction is less than 0.5%.”
- Address the common causes of short-term side effects with relatable, caring, and direct language. Messaging example: “When people do have mild side effects, they’re a normal sign that your body is building protection to the virus. Most go away within a few days.”