The news that a Covid-19 vaccine was approved by the regulators in recent weeks was met with a collective sigh of relief and cheers all round for those clever science bods. And now, we’re going to see one of the biggest comms exercises most of us will have ever experienced – persuading sufficient people to take the vaccine. It’s arguably a bigger ask and task than anything else we’ve seen this year – and it’s been a busy one comms wise.
The work to promote the take up appeared to me to kick in very quickly (clearly the optimism was there that this day would come sooner rather than later). We are at the very, very early stages of a mass vaccination programme, yet I’m seeing a lot of positive and proactive work going on already.
We’ve had the images of the first person in the world to get the jab, Margaret Keenan, and the video of that bloke in London being interviewed by America’s CNN. I must admit I had mixed feelings about the CCN one, aside from the mike not being on a long stick. Most people are not going to get the vaccine by just ringing up their local hospital, but hey ho.
I’ve also seen locally the first person in my town getting the jab has been and this will be replicated all across the UK.
I am impressed so far.
Communicating the positives of the vaccine is arguably harder as well, against the backdrop of global fatigue. Not just fatigue from those who’ve had covid, or lost family or friends to covid, or lost jobs, homes etc, more the generalised fatigue of living like we’ve been living in the UK for the past 9 months.
Plus, the misinformation out there is phenomenal and is across all social media platforms. This piece from ITV is as good a place as any to show the extent of it and what the platforms have done and plan to do to combat it.
Also, this is also hugely positive on what the Trusted News Initiative plans to do to combat the spread of harmful vaccine disinformation.
Personally, I don’t think having misgivings and/or questions about a relatively new vaccine are baseless. It’s a massive exercise to get everyone on board and that means not just appealing to the anti-vaxxers.
I think we need to take a collective responsibility on this one. We need to point out harmful messaging when we see or hear it. And point people to the facts*. And we need to do our bit by passing on relevant information to hard to reach groups including of course those without internet access. Less of the war language would help too. That’s even crept into pandemic pop – I’m looking at you Mr Williams of Stoke.
So, the pressure is on, but we can do this. We need everyone to get on board and we can look forward to a better 2021!