How marketing impacts COVID vaccine hesitancy


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Health experts are expressing concerns about how many people eligible New Yorkers have yet to schedule their vaccinations. For the last couple of weeks in the Finger Lakes, for example, vaccine supply has exceeded demand. 

Let’s take a closer look at how the marketing of the vaccine can have an impact on whether someone gets the shot.

“Nobody expected a pandemic, so we were completely unprepared when it came to marketing many messages about a pandemic, let alone something as specific as a vaccine,” said Tom Proietti, Resident Media Scholar at St. John Fisher College. “We introduced this thing before we did any marketing, so the vaccines were out here and we really hadn’t done any marketing on how am I going to get this message to you that you should be taking this, because the immediate impact of this was, ‘Let’s get this out there as quickly as possible. Let’s get as many people vaccinated.’”

There is a lot of misinformation about the vaccine on social media, which makes vaccine hesitancies rise. Not to mention, people are easily able to share any information they want online. 

“If I am a skeptic about this, I go on Twitter and have 9,000 followers, and my 9,000 followers see that I might not think this is a good idea—or it’s dangerous, or it’s dumb, or ‘I’ll wait for herd immunity’—all those things create a level of hesitancy that is just astonishing,” Proietti said. 

Proietti said vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, it just has a greater impact in 2021. “This has gone on with the polio vaccine, it just didn’t have the same kind of impact because it wasn’t possible for me, with a Twitter account in 1955, to start saying you should not take this because it’s going to do some damage or it’s not going to do any good,” he said.

Proietti did say a bigger emphasis on marketing the vaccine would help. The more you hear positive messages about the vaccine, the more you’re likely to trust it. “In advertising, there’s this thing called the ‘3 hit theory,’ if you don’t hit me with a clear message three times over and over again in a relatively short period of time, so what I need to do is not only have to be convinced, but I need to recall. I need to recall what is the message, how important is the message, and what is going to get me to move to that last step, which is action,” he said. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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