Public trust in the vaccine depends on what happens inside your hospital
With news of the efficacy rates from Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca trials have vaccines in the spotlight. This is welcome news as the biggest surge is happening across the country, putting an already overloaded system at greater risk as we move into Thanksgiving weekend, where millions are still anticipated to be traveling.
Yet, hospitals are facing many challenges concerning the vaccine. Logistically, storage temperatures and distribution plans are top of mind. But perhaps at the top of the list of immediate needs is convincing doctors, nurses, and front-line workers, it’s safe. This group will need to get the vaccine themselves and be the ambassadors for the broader public about the vaccine, as they are the trusted source for information. There is skepticism among these audiences that hospitals are racing to address as many are expecting their first doses of vaccines to arrive mid-December — and our own research shows this skepticism could translate into reserved prescribing practices.
Even the name, Operation Warp Speed, fails to convey the thorough nature through which test trials have been conducted. At Revive, we talk a lot about the No Normal. And while that usually applies to the state in which hospitals are operating, it applies to the vaccine, too. Like so many innovations of the past nine months, the pandemic created a necessity – and an opportunity – to work differently. Barriers were removed that typically slow trials down, not because of cutting corners on safety, but because of inefficiencies in the system that simply couldn’t exist. That, combined with the urgency, created an environment where things we’d never thought possible are possible – like a fully-vetted vaccine in 9 months.
As communicators, you need to be thinking about the vaccine on two fronts – internally, how to get your team members comfortable with the vaccine for immediate use, and externally, how do to prepare your communities to be ready when the vaccines are more widely available. Internally, we know that data is the best influencer. Externally, while we know there are national campaigns in the works, each community will be different, and trust is built locally. Word of mouth and peer-to-peer influence has a huge impact on understanding the vaccine. And you must take into account that there are populations within communities that may be even more skeptical, like Black Americans, who remember ethical atrocities of the past, that will need additional information within the context of their own experience.
So if you haven’t begun these conversations across your organization, check out Revive’s Vaccine Preparedness Program to help you get started.