When a vaccine against COVID-19 arrives, researchers who study public behavior around the issues of disease prevention and health practices know that some people will opt out.
Winning over the vaccine-hesitant is the expertise of Jeff Goad, Pharm.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Chapman University School of Pharmacy. Goad is also immediate past president of the California Immunization Coalition.
From experience and research, the coalition has learned that storytelling and a motivational interviewing approach is more persuasive than just giving facts, he says.
“I’ll ask people, ‘Have you ever been in a car accident that was so severe you almost lost your life?’ And most people say no, that’s never happened,” Goad says. “And I’ll say, ‘Then why do you wear a seat belt when you drive or put your child in a car seat?’”
The majority come around, but procrastinators are a concern, especially in the age of COVID-19, he says.
Goad notes that anti-vaccine supporters make up a small minority of those who don’t get vaccinated. He and his colleagues target most of their persuasive efforts at the hesitant and those who get some but not all vaccines.
With this group, “we really have a chance to explain the science and benefit of vaccination, which helps them get to the decision faster to vaccinate themselves and their children,” he says. “With the rates of adult and pediatric vaccination dipping fast, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever we need to ensure people get vaccinated, and on time.”