I have been reading a lot recently how the US has bungled the messaging around vaccines, focusing too much on vaccines not being 100% effective and how you can’t change your behavior after receiving one, thus driving people to not get the vaccine because it sounds ineffective.
Here is an interesting NYT article (paywall) about it.
Here is a tweet thread from the author that basically explains the article:
For weeks, the public messages about vaccines have been more negative than the facts warrant.
Now we are seeing the cost: A large percentage of Americans wouldn’t take a vaccine if offered one.
- About 1/3 of military troops who’ve been offered vaccine shots have declined.
- When shots became available to Ohio nursing-home workers, 60% said no.
- Among frontline workers in SoCal, the share was 40-50%.
- N.B.A. stars are wary of doing public-services ads.
Nationwide, nearly half of Americans would refuse a shot if offered one immediately, polls suggest.
Vaccination skepticism is even higher among Black and Hispanic people, white people without a college degree, registered Republicans and lower-income households.
Why so much skepticism? Think about all of the negative things you’ve heard about the vaccines:
- They aren’t 100% effective.
- Vaccinated people may be contagious.
- The virus variants may make everything worse.
- Don’t change your behavior even if you get a shot.
The public messaging from many experts – and, yes, from us in the media – often makes the vaccines sound mediocre if not ineffectual. “Our messaging is bad, really bad,” says epidemiologist
“Our discussion about vaccines has been poor, really poor,”
I get that the negative messages often have a basis in truth. There are still uncertainties about the vaccines. And they won’t wipe this coronavirus off the face of the earth anytime soon.
But the negativity is fundamentally misleading – and causing real damage.
The evidence so far suggests that a full vaccine dose:
- effectively eliminates the risk of Covid death
- nearly eliminates the risk of hospitalization
- drastically reduces the ability to infect somebody else.
All of that is also true about the virus variants.
What would be a more accurate message about vaccines? “They’re safe. They’re highly effective against serious disease. And the emerging evidence about infectiousness looks really good. If you have access to a vaccine and you’re eligible, you should get it.” -
The bottom line: The widespread negative public messaging about the vaccines is fundamentally misleading, and it’s damaging to public health.
There are also some charts and links in that thread.
David Leonhardt on Twitter: “For weeks, the public messages about vaccines have been more negative than the facts warrant. Now we are seeing the cost: A large percentage of Americans wouldn’t take a vaccine if offered one. …” / Twitter