Combatting Vaccine Hesitancy Through Messaging

Combatting Vaccine Hesitancy Through Messaging Combatting Vaccine Hesitancy Through Messaging

April 21, 20212 min read

As vaccine hesitancy becomes a threat to American’s decision to get the COVID vaccine, persuasive messaging is at the forefront of changing people’s minds.


Allyson Levin, PhD, visiting assistant professor of communication, believes social media messaging plays a key role. And that post-vaccination selfies can actually help convince people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.


“When we don’t know what to do, we look to others to guide our behavior,” stated Levin. “It is really important when we see people who share online, they were vaccinated who are close to us, our friends or family, and people we look up to like influencers and celebrities.”


Further, online communities create a world where it appears that people are getting vaccinated, “If we look around and see an environment where people are getting vaccinated, we will want to get vaccinated as well. That will encourage vaccination at least if we trust those people around us,” said Levin.


Another issue to delve into is what kind of messaging will work best for Generation Z?


She states the social media platform TikTok can be extremely useful when information is “scientifically valid, evidence-based and coming from people who understand science like medical professionals.”


“A unique opportunity we have with TikTok is that users are receiving health information when they aren’t looking for it,” said Levin.


Recently, companies have also started to endorse COVID vaccinations in their advertisements.


“At the end of the day it is wonderful that brands are amplifying these messages like Budweiser donating their airtime during the Super Bowl. There is an element of public relations too, the brands look good for promoting these messages. But the more people that see these messages the better.”


But Levin pointed out, messaging is extremely important but really relies on people’s ability to get the vaccine, “access is equally important. Unless people can actually have access to the vaccinations, the message is just one part of it,” stated Levin.


To speak with Levin, email mediaexperts@villanova.edu.



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