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Changing Minds: What Moves the Needle for the Unvaccinated?

With just over 52% of those eligible in the United States fully vaccinated as of September 1, 2021, health care providers and others have a continuing challenge ahead: Trying to convince those who are eligible but still holding out to get vaccinated. Gladys Jimenez, a contact tracer from PHI’s Tracing Health program, describes her work in communicating about vaccines to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • WebMD
a health worker putting a band aid on a patient's arm after vaccination
With just over 52% of those eligible in the United States fully vaccinated as of September 1, health care providers and others have a continuing challenge ahead: Trying to convince those who are eligible but still holding out to get vaccinated.Recent data and a poll do show some movement in the right direction, as immunizations are increasing and hesitancy is declining among certain groups. According to federal officials, about 14 million people in the U.S. got their first dose in August, an increase of 4 million, compared to the numbers who got it in July.
And a new poll from the Axios-IPSOS Coronavirus Index found only 1 in 5 Americans, or 20%, say they are not likely to get the vaccine, while “hard opposition,” those not at all likely, has dropped to 14% of those adults.But there is still a lot of work to do. So, how do medical professionals or concerned citizens reach those who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, whatever their reason?Many experts in communication and persuasion that WebMD/Medscape talked to agree that throwing statistics at people hesitant to get the COVID vaccine is generally useless and often backfires.So what does work, according to these experts?

  • Emphasizing the trends of more people getting vaccinated
  • Focusing on everyone’s freedom of choice
  • Listening to concerns without judgment
  • Offering credible information
  • Correcting myths when necessary
  • Helping them fit vaccination into their “world view.”

Gladys Jimenez is a contact tracer and “vaccine ambassador” for Tracing Health, a partnership between the Oregon Public Health Institute and the Public Health Institute that has nearly 300 bilingual contract tracers who serve the ethnic communities they’re from. During a typical week, she talks to 50 people or more, and promoting the vaccine is top of mind.

The conversations, Jimenez says, are like a dance. She presents information, then steps back and lets them talk. Depending on what they say, she gives them more information or corrects their misinformation. “They often will say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’”

It’s rarely one conversation that convinces hesitant people, she says.

Gladys Jimenez
I want to hear the person talk, where they are coming from, where they are at. I'm planting this seed in their brain. … people want someone to listen to them … they want to vent. Gladys Jimenez, Tracing Health

Once you let them do that, Jimenez says, “I can tell the person is in a different state of mind.” She also knows that people “will make the decision in their own time.”

Click below to read the full story in WebMD.

Originally published by WebMD


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