July 29, 2021

The Kaiser Family Foundation wanted to know what motivates people who were opposed to taking the COVID-19 vaccine to change their minds and obtained some insightful data.

Here are some of the main motivators (which I edited for length). You really should go to the KFF website to pull the data to develop this story. It might also give you insight into what messages resonate with people who need to hear it most.

  • One-fifth of adults (21%) now report being vaccinated after saying in January they planned on waiting to get vaccinated, would only get it if required, or would definitely not get vaccinated.
  • Many of these individuals noted the role of their friends and family members as well as their personal doctors in persuading them to get a vaccine. Seeing their friends and family members get vaccinated without serious side effects, talking to family members about being able to safely visit, and conversations with their personal doctors about their own risks were all persuasive factors for these individuals.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

  • A small but meaningful share also say the easing of restrictions for vaccinated people was a factor in their decision to get a vaccine.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

  • When asked to name the feeling that best describes how they feel now that they have been vaccinated, nearly a quarter of vaccinated adults offer responses around feeling safe (24%) and relieved (22%). Other positive feelings reported were freedom, confidence, and more certainty that if they did get COVID-19 it would be less serious or they were less likely to die from it.
  • Conversations with family members and friends have played a major role in persuading people to get vaccinated. 17% of adults who are now vaccinated (after saying in January they planned on waiting to get vaccinated, would only get it if required, or would definitely not get vaccinated) say they were persuaded to do so by a family member and 5% say they were persuaded by a friend.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

  • Others cite protecting friends and family members as the main reason for getting vaccinated and others offer being able to see their friends and family members as well as family pressure or encouragement as the main reasons why they chose to receive a vaccine.
  • When asked what would motivate them to get vaccinated against COVID-19, most in the “wait and see” group say they just want more time to see how the vaccine affects others who have already gotten it.

The Kaiser polling shows that a substantial number of people are concerned about the side effects of the vaccination. They say they can’t afford to be sick for a few days. They say they want to wait until the vaccine has been in use for a year, then they will consider it.

Another research project involving vaccine skeptics by Echelon Insights involved millions of social media posts, as well as tracking polls. It even takes a global view of why people turn down vaccines. It found that among vaccine skeptics or opponents, one of the most persuasive messages would be that former President Donald Trump took the vaccine and supported its rapid development.

This article originally appeared in Covering COVID-19, a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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