Evidence-based messaging to increase COVID-19 vaccination uptake February 18, 2021

Evidence-based messaging to increase COVID-19 vaccination uptake

February 18, 2021

As the United States undertakes the extraordinary task of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have partnered to equip mayors with best practices and insights they can leverage in their local vaccine rollout strategy. This toolkit for mayors includes guidance on the role of the mayor, data and monitoring, and public engagement and communications.

As part of this work, our partners at the Behavioral Insights Team conducted rigorous national research to understand how mayors and trusted community messengers can communicate to encourage vaccine uptake.  Recognizing the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities, the research included extensive focus groups and surveys that oversampled at-risk populations.

Four key themes emerged from the research, and both mayors and trusted messengers can use these data-driven illustrative messages to communicate about the vaccine with confidence. Research shows these illustrative framings also resonate in Spanish and are included below as well. 

Theme 1: A desire to protect family and loved ones is widespread and increases willingness to get vaccinated

Illustrative message: Your loved ones need you. Get the COVID-19 vaccine to make sure you can be there for them.

Spanish Translation: Tus seres queridos te necesitan.Cuando llegue tu turno, vacúnate contra el Covid-19 para que puedas apoyarlos.

Theme 2: Healthcare workers are trusted messengers and their decision to get the vaccine is influential

Illustrative message: Doctors and nurses have decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Now they recommend that you do too. Talk to your doctor to find out more about why it’s right for you.

Spanish Translation: Nuestro personal médico ha decidido vacunarse contra el Covid-19. Ahora ellos recomiendan que tú también lo hagas. Habla con un profesional de la salud sobre qué es lo mejor para ti.

Theme 3: People have a strong desire to return to aspects of pre-pandemic life and “get their lives back"

Illustrative message: Now we have the chance to return to the people and places we love. Let’s get our lives back again. Sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Spanish Translation: Tenemos la oportunidad de regresar a los lugares y con las personas que amamos. Recuperemos nuestra forma de vivir. Regístrate para recibir la vacuna contra el Covid-19.

Theme 4: Emphasis on the rigorous testing of the vaccine and the millions who have already gotten the vaccine increases confidence

Illustrative message: The COVID-19 vaccine was tested with 70,000 people. Now, more than 42 million* people have gotten it. When it’s your turn, you can feel confident that it is safe and effective.

Spanish Translation: La vacuna contra el Covid-19 fue probada en 70,000 personas. Hoy, más de 42 millones* de personas ya se han vacunado. Cuando sea tu turno, puedes sentirte confiado en que es segura y efectiva.

These are rich veins to tap into as mayors engage their communities and activate trusted messengers. These illustrative messages can be used in combination with the best practices outlined in our Public Engagement and Communications toolkit, found here.

* Update with latest vaccination figures


(Photo: Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)