Empathy, Not Judgment, To Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy
As the COVID-19 Delta variant spreads rapidly across the country, there is an increasingly urgent need to overcome vaccine hesitancy and access to care issues among the unvaccinated. Michigan Medicine is fielding a comprehensive vaccine hesitancy communications initiative that is strongly influenced by University of Michigan (U-M) research stressing the importance of being empathetic to the unvaccinated.
“Clearly, the Delta variant and the dramatic increase in cases nationally is raising the stakes and making it even more critical to address issues related to vaccine hesitancy and access to care,” says Rose Glenn, chief communications and marketing officer for Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine. “We’re redoubling our efforts to boost vaccinations among patients, the community, and university and health system employees, and the communication department is playing a crucial role.”
The communications initiative is designed to persuade unvaccinated residents in the health system’s service area to get vaccinated,” explains Glenn. “From a branding standpoint, we’re focused on positioning Michigan Medicine as a trusted source for reliable information and communicating that our facilities and medical practices are key points of access for the vaccines.”
The initiative is based largely on U-M faculty research on vaccine hesitancy. A survey of university and health system employees found that the main reason for reluctance among respondents is a perception that the vaccines were rushed to market and may not be safe. “Participants indicated they don’t want to be lectured or told that they’re wrong. They want others to understand and empathize with their position on the issue,” notes Glenn.
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