Messaging Strategies for Mitigating COVID-19 Through Vaccination and Nonpharmaceutical Interventions

by Luke J. Matthews, Andrew M. Parker, Monique Martineau, Courtney A. Gidengil, Christine Chen, Jeanne S. Ringel

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With new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and likely more to come, the (extraordinarily complex) logistics of deploying them have gotten underway. Public health officials across the country face a daunting task: convincing the majority of individuals to queue up for shots while also maintaining a steady supply of doses and efficient appointment sign-ups. The road ahead is still long and, even with increasing vaccination, will still require adherence with other effective public health behaviors, such as mask-wearing.

This Perspective addresses the importance of effectively matching the message, the audience, and the sender for messages to promote uptake of vaccination and of such behaviors as mask-wearing. It offers suggestions about how to leverage such factors as variations in risk perception and variation among U.S. subcultures regarding tendencies to follow rules and to act for the good of the group. The authors also review evidence that suggests health messages should engage directly with misinformation to refute it.

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