Home Politics The Vaccine Rollout Is Faltering. What Do We Do Now?

The Vaccine Rollout Is Faltering. What Do We Do Now?

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Expert on vaccine campaigns and persuasion tactics says the next phase needs to be run more like a political campaign than a public health effort.

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The Faltering Vaccine Rollout

The vaccine supply is up, but the number of Americans getting the vaccine is down. Large numbers of Americans report that they are fearful of taking the vaccine or have no interest in getting vaccinated. The number of vaccinations dropped 11% in the last week alone. On Friday, the CDC and FDA resumed use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine stoking new fears for the vaccine-hesitant.

John Jameson, the founder and president of Winning Connections, a DC-based persuasion firm involved with vaccine mobilization campaigns in Colorado and elsewhere, says getting COVID vaccine shots in arms is the most important campaign of our lifetime.  Federal, state and local governments, along with non-profit organizations need to treat the vaccine rollout like a political campaign tailoring messages to key groups and using phones and other forms of one-on-one communications to sway doubters and then use the same tactics later to remind individuals to show up for their appointment.

The Hard Part

“We can not rely on a build it and they will come philosophy,” says Jameson. “One size doesn’t fit all.” For example, Citing Anthony Fauci, may be well received by most Americans, but will have the opposite effect on some Republicans. As a further example, the arguments provides to an elderly homebound Black man should likely be different than the script for a young Latinx mother, even though they may be next-door neighbors.

Phone-based campaigns to promote COVID vaccination have met with success this year because people are spending more time at home near their phone. In contrast, tried and true campaign tactics like canvassing door-to-door and speaking at public events are far more limited during a pandemic.

“Half of the American public is now vaccinated,” says Jameson. “That’s a great accomplishment, but the first half is the easy part. Now comes the hard part.”

About the Author

John Jameson founded Winning Connections, a Washington, DC-based persuasion firm in 1996 after having served as a campaign manager, a Congressional aide and as an executive in the telecommunications industry.

He holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, a J.D. from Duke University School of Law, and B.A. from Millsaps College.

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