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Trust in the new vaccines – the vital role of healthcare communications

by Carolyn Paul

Since the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in the UK in early December 2020, the subject of vaccine confidence has become one of huge importance.

Vaccine hesitancy, of course, existed long before COVID-19, but resistance to the routine immunisation of children has largely been associated with the ‘anti-vax’ movement. Lack of confidence in the new COVID-19 vaccines has been reported in diverse communities and sections of society.

Indeed, as of November 2020, the Edelman Trust Barometer found that only 62% of those employed in the healthcare sector said they were ready to be vaccinated within a year. This is a lower figure than for those employed in many other industries, including telecoms, manufacturing and fashion. And this was before any of the negative stories about the new vaccines had made headlines.

So can we hypothesise that at this point it was the very ‘newness’ of the vaccines that was the issue? And how do you overcome ‘newness’ without waiting years for something to become ‘old’? One way is to maintain a constant flow of credible, accurate and reassuring information, and of course this is where healthcare communications has a role to play. The same is true when it comes to overcoming misinformation.

Almost half of people (46%) surveyed in the Trust Barometer agreed it had been difficult for them to find reliable and trustworthy information about the virus and its effects.

It is our responsibility as healthcare communicators to recognise that access to the truth is as important as access to the vaccine itself, by ensuring that everyone in every community can easily find information that they can trust, from sources that they trust and people that they trust.

This means taking very localised approaches, using channels and voices that those who may be concerned and alarmed will find credible and reassuring.

Only by doing so can we overcome the understandable concerns of those who may have less trust in the healthcare systems that serve them. And thereby ensure that the ‘new’ vaccines become as much of an unremarkable part of our healthcare routines as our annual flu jab.

Carolyn Paul is EMEA Health Chair and Global Managing Director at Edelman

In association with

25th June 2021

From: Marketing

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