Healthcare communicators must promote vaccine for inoculation effort to work: study

Healthcare communication professionals should deploy messaging that encourages vaccine acceptance because the success of the country's vaccination effort hinges on Americans' willingness to be inoculated, according to a study published Nov. 19 in Health Affairs.

The researchers created a mathematical model to analyze how factors besides the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines could affect the U.S. vaccination effort and found that the public's waning trust in vaccines is one of the most pressing facets that could influence widespread inoculation. According to the study, national surveys reveal as few as 50 percent of Americans say they are willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The study also suggests healthcare communication professionals should keep disseminating messaging that promotes pandemic safety protocols, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, as the severity of the pandemic during the first COVID-19 vaccine's deployment is also a significant factor that could affect the success of the vaccination effort.

"If I have a cup of water, I can put out a stove fire. But I can't put out a forest fire, even if that water is 100 percent potent," Rochelle Walensky, MD, chief of Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital's infectious disease division and one of the study's senior authors, said in a news release. "We'll get out of this faster if you give the vaccine less work to do."

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