COVID-19 Updates

Weekly Comms Report — Communications Plans For The COVID-19 Vaccine

If you’re in the middle of creating or tweaking your communications plans for the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t miss our brand-new survey findings, featured here. Our latest surveys build on the intelligence from previous reports on consumer and physician sentiment, but we’ve kept the action steps tight in this round:

  1. Be clear about distribution timelines.
  2. Leverage influencers and patient success stories as they become available.
  3. Support your doctors, recognizing they’re answering the hard questions.

Read more for the data proof points.

Communicating about COVID-19

1. The rubber is meeting the road in vaccine distribution.

What We're Hearing: As soon as Pfizer got official emergency use authorization for the vaccine, trucks were loaded up and dispatched to distribute the vaccine across the country. By Monday morning, the first coronavirus vaccines were administered. But what comes next? And is your organization ready for it?

Communications Recommendation: For now, health systems should be focused on building the public’s trust and confidence amidst a skeptical environment. Experts are predicting the days of hesitant communities are numbered and high demand for the vaccine is on the horizon. In addition to educating communities on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, it’s equally important to make clear your facility’s plans for distribution in the coming months, for both healthcare workers (many of whom will be first in line to receive the vaccine), and the general public.

2. Each market will present unique vaccine buy-in challenges.

What We're Hearing: In the same way the pandemic has highlighted racial disparities in our healthcare system, the vaccine is sure to reveal more of the same. We cannot ignore what we have learned so far. Some demographics will be more hesitant to be vaccinated than others, which is understandable, due to a history of malpractice toward underserved populations. In the most recent Pew survey, just 42 percent of Black Americans indicated they would take a vaccine compared to 61 percent of white Americans..

Communication Recommendation: When fine-tuning your communications regarding vaccinations, it’s important to take a look at who may be hesitant in your own community. Knowing your audience and the differences in perceptions among different races, ages, genders, etc. can give you the power to nuance your messaging and delivery to ensure the highest impact for even the most skeptical audiences.

3. Staffing shortages will reach a new level over the holidays.

What We're Hearing: The rollout of the vaccine is certainly a welcomed beacon of hope for many frontline workers, but we cannot ignore the challenges still facing health systems nationwide. Across the country, one-third of all hospitals have reached more than 90% ICU capacity. In addition, the growing number of healthcare workers who are quarantined is adding to existing strains on capacity and staffing.

Communications Recommendation: We’ve seen this before — the capacity issue is again stretching health systems to the brink. But as we approach the holidays and prepare to deal with another inevitable influx of new cases, this could prove to be the ultimate test. Learnings from prior waves will help systems mitigate risks, but with fewer staff to treat patients, this wave will be no less complicated. How will a potential shortage of staff factor into your system’s ability to care for and vaccinate your community? It’s critical to develop a plan to source additional healthcare workers should that be the case.