Why are people so resistant to taking the COVID-19 vaccine?
There are a number of reasons for this…
…but the biggest is the inconsistent messages put out by authorities.
You see, I recently read an extremely interesting thread on Twitter.
The person who wrote this thread claims to be involved in high level political messaging.
According to them * this * is what politicians need to do:
1. Stop using guilt
Understand that guilt will never makeanyone take the vaccine. This is because guilt only works when people buy into your premises and moral frameworks. In fact, if people think you’re using guilt as a persuasion tool their views will only harden.
2. Respect people
Normal people are concerned that power will be used against them. If there’s no respect they will expect these abuses of power and they will naturally distrust you. At this point they become impossible to persuade.
3. Understand your audience
The powers that be seem to believe that it’s enough to announce their credentials and expertise. Instead you need to understand your audience and validate their concerns.
4. Build trust
Remember, if people don’t trust you nothing matters. Without trust they see you the same way they see a used car salesman. In this case all of your persuasion attempts will only serve to increase their skepticism of vaccines.
5. Avoid contradictions
The governments messaging has been contradictory, inconsistent, and cynical. A good example of this is politicians who go to restaurants and hair salons without masks…while ordinary people stayed inside and had their businesses shut down.
6. Admit to mistakes
These contradictions are the biggest reason why people are so skeptical. Politicians need to admit this skepticism is somewhat justified. They also need to admit that many mistakes were made.
These points can be combined into a message which reads something like this.
“We are sorry. We blew it at the start when we said masks don’t help. It turns out they do. We blew it when we said closing the border was racist. It was actually a good idea. We blew it with the vaccine roll out. We didn’t explain it well…”
Once this is done we move onto the meat of the message…
“We have earned your scorn and distrust. That is our fault. As a gesture of good will, we will not force you to take it…”
Doing this takes abuse of power off the table.
It also opens people up to hearing you out.
“The vaccines work. They do have side effects, and sometimes they can be severe. I want to say that first, so that you know and can make an informed decision. It is important that you have all the information. Even the downsides…”
This section is powerful because you’re not “fact checking” them.
You’re not treating their concerns as trivial, or acting pretentious, or as if you are a holier-than-thou smarty pants. Nor are you placing yourself above them or condemning them. You’re telling them that they do have concerns that must be addressed.
“The severe side effects are rare. They exist, but no more than with the flu shot or the malaria vaccine. The vaccine makes most people immune to Covid. About 95% of people who get vaccinated never get Covid. Most vaccines are like this…”
“There is always a small group of vaccinated people who get sick anyway. However, it still means that once you take it you really lower your risk for Covid. There are exceptions, again 95% is not 100%, and there will still be people who get it and pass it on, but it really lowers your risk of getting sick.”
What’s great about this section is that you’re not overselling the vaccine’s effectiveness.
What’s more, you’re not threatening people with another lockdown.
“The vaccine isn’t perfect, and will not make Covid go extinct. What it will do is lower the odds of people getting Covid, and if enough people do that we can make most of the Covid go away, and we can lower the risks of Covid for people…”
“Given how prevalent Covid is and that the severe vaccine side effects are no more common that with other vaccines, this is the best and safest way to protect yourself from Covid…”
Again, notice that you’re not talking down to people, threatening them, or shaming them.
This type of messaging can be effective, but only if it’s done consistently…
…and even then it will take time to work.