Since mid-December, Verywell Health has been tracking how Americans feel about the COVID-19 vaccines and how those feelings are changing over time. As we head into the spring, two things are clear. First, enthusiasm for vaccines is rising. But second, the mental health impact of the pandemic is getting worse, quickly. A February report from the American Psychological Association says 75% of adults attributed their prolonged high stress levels to the pandemic. Now, NIAID director Anthony Fauci, MD is warning of a post-COVID mental health pandemic.
In our most recent survey, 52% of respondents said the pandemic was making a significant impact on their life—up from 43% in December. The longer this pandemic goes on, the more people are feeling it.
People are also physically feeling it more than ever. Harvard research shows one in five people have delayed medical care because of the pandemic—more than half of whom say they’re experiencing negative health consequences as a result.
Are these long-term challenges fueling the desire to get vaccinated? Maybe. Among our respondents, the pro-vaccination group is the largest it’s ever been:
- 63% people are either vaccinated or would agree to be vaccinated (up from 56% in December)
- 22% of people would refuse the vaccine (down from 27% in December)
- 15% of people don’t know if they’d get the vaccine (down from 19% in December)
People Are Looking to Family
Lots of other factors are at play here. Half of Americans list family as an important source of advice on taking the vaccine—second only to healthcare professionals. And we see the effects of this as vaccines become more available.
Over the last month, the number of people who say they know someone who’s gotten a shot has doubled. It’s not just a frontline worker you know who’s been vaccinated—it’s your parents, your aunt, your sister, or your brother. And they are OK. People now know mild side effects are par for the course. In fact, looking ahead to preliminary results from our next survey, it seems people are more worried about getting COVID-19 than they are about experiencing vaccine side effects.
The more people who are vaccinated, the more confident people are that they’re safe and effective. It’s a powerful virtuous cycle.
What Can Marketers Do to Combat Residual Hesitancy?
There’s more work to be done to help reach and educate both those who are undecided and against COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy is predominantly driven by concerns about side effects and questions about how well they work. These are questions that can be answered, such as with detailed explainers to help people make informed decisions.
The good news is even people who say they won’t get the vaccine indicate they are open to being persuaded. Knowing that people can be swayed by the experiences of their friends and family who’ve been vaccinated, we need to arm those friends and family members with the right tools to talk about vaccines. Tools that can teach people exactly what you should and shouldn’t say about the vaccination experience, and why.
Like our survey shows, facilitating conversations between people who’ve been vaccinated and people who haven’t is the most impactful way to encourage people to get a shot when it’s their turn.