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Vaccine Myths and Messaging: How to Clarify Fact vs. Fiction

January 29, 2021 | Strategy
Professional and Doctor

What rumors should you, as healthcare communication experts, address and which should you ignore? What’s the best approach to “Fact vs. Fiction” and speaking the truth? We've got 6 tips to help you communicate precise vaccine messaging.

It’s 2021 and the coronavirus continues to make the evening news. The pandemic still dominates conversations and resources in industries and communities across the globe. A major effort is in place to establish trust in the various vaccines and a common understanding of their safety and efficacy.

Yet, rumors exist and seem to range from legitimate to bizarre. What rumors should you, as healthcare communication experts, address and which should you ignore? What’s the best approach to “Fact vs. Fiction” and speaking the truth? Smart and precise messaging about the vaccine will no doubt save lives and precious resources, easing rollout concerns and navigating access. We’ve broken down some strategies to keep in mind when speaking about this important topic.

6 Precise messaging tips about the vaccine

Create an infographic that can make science approachable and address concerns quickly.

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, and a thoughtful infographic is a strategic way to communicate a lot of data quickly. You can find great resources available to share (CDC, FDA, Johns Hopkins), but if you have a staff graphic designer able to create a custom infographic with specific, real-time data impacting your community that’s even better. National data is great, but with so many geographic differences in the spread, surge, vaccine rollout and demographics, personalize if possible.

Address the timeline.

Fears that the vaccine may have been rushed are prevalent, but a science-based reassurance from one of your experts can help calm concerns. Protecting our country and citizens against COVID is a national priority with all parties working together, around the clock, funded by the United States government with independent verification. Data is verified and posted online by the Food and Drug Administration, but allowing a local representative from your trusted hospital or healthcare system to speak on the topic will help normalize the conversation.

Mind your social media comments and engagements.

See what’s happening on your own page and be sure to address the specific concerns on your owned platforms. Reassure you’ve heard the concern and address appropriately. Remind your digital community the well-being and safety of your patients and their families is paramount to all you do. We’ve shared best practices for reputation management that will help if you need to respond to a tricky comment or thread.

Confront racial concerns.

Health advocates across the country have confirmed people in Black and Latino communities are among the least likely to get vaccinated and are disproportionally affected by the pandemic. Inequities of the past and a troubled history with medical experimentation may damage the trust these hard-hit communities have in their health systems. To help overcome these hesitations to vaccinate, partner with other community organizations on outreach and education opportunities. Be sure to stay in conversation with local leaders about how to overcome barriers to healthcare delivery and misinformation.

Should you engage with conspiracy theories?

While it is important to answer questions and soothe anxiety during this difficult time, taking on conspiracy theories may take away from other important conversations you should be having with the public. If you find certain rumors to be swirling in your area, speak to those concerns succinctly and firmly, then move on. Engaging with conspiracy theorists in a back-and-forth manner may backfire and discredit the reputation your organization has earned. Stay above the fray and stay on topic.

Be transparent and ever present.

A common theme this past year has been to stay in touch with your patients and communities using the earned media and owned media available. Trust in local healthcare is high, and for a year now you’ve likely been a major source of information to the local news media about the pandemic. Continue to use these platforms, being honest about what vaccine is available and to whom. Be open about challenges and how your organization plans to address them. Maintain that solid reputation with honesty and consistency, and be the voice for calm when it’s needed most.

Are you wanting to create a personalized community outreach and communication plan?

Let Ten Adams be your guide in creating a tailored approach to community engagement that garners trust while improving your community’s health. Get started today – talk with our experts.

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