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25 August 2021
The strategies deployed against vaccine hesitancy
Persuading customers to buy your brand of detergent rather than a competitor’s version is one thing but persuading those sceptical or hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine requires quite a different toolbox.
Why it matters
The tools available to public health authorities are far more extensive than they were 20 years ago, but are they more effective? Certain early research reported by the Washington Post finds that highly targeted campaigns are able to reach large numbers of people and elicit positive responses without drawing an anti-vax pile on.
Prior to online advertising, public health communications would go out in mass media – on TV channels, radio stations, or publications that the target tends to watch. The difference is the sheer penetration among hard-to-reach communities.
Though the effectiveness of microtargeting alone is doubtful, the fact that vaccine hesitancy cuts across demographic and political lines means that it has become a crucial tool.
While the typical idea of an American anti-vaxxer is a white, southern conservative, there are also many young people of colour across the country who are sceptical. Microtargeting should, in theory, be more effective in bridging these divides.
Still, the political divide is striking; just 56% of Republican voters are vaccinated compared to 89% of Democratic voters.
Ultimately, with traditional mass media struggling in a fragmented media market and polarised political scene, new techniques are showing their worth, per the Post.
Some evidence is emerging that themes of freedom combined with trust in the military and “our Greatest Generation”, meaning the generation that fought in World War II, are having some cut through with college-educated conservatives.
Influencers have also proved effective among BAME communities and the religious – the Pope, after all, is something of an influencer.
Targeting, according to the non-profit Public Good Projects found that smaller-scale campaigns were able to gain space to breathe and communicate without attracting a pile on from hardcore anti-vaxxers and trolls.