Communicators Face Multiple Hurdles as They Race to Erase U.S.’s Vaccine Hesitancy


Veteran communicator Andy Gilman of CommCore Consulting remembers taking the Sabin polio vaccine in the 1960s. “It was a sugar cube [with the vaccine on it]. Everybody wanted to take it.” Kids liked the sugar, and adults felt getting vaccinated was patriotic. So far, the atmosphere surrounding coronavirus vaccination in the US isn’t like that.

How could it be? The definition of patriotism seems cloudy in a country with a significant political divide. In addition, the virus and steps to slow its spread have become political. Not surprisingly, there’s a correlation between a person’s politics and his/her attitude toward the vaccine.

In a December 2020 Associated Press-NORC poll, 60 percent of Democrats said they’d take a vaccine; just 40 percent of Republicans said they would. Overall, about half of those surveyed say they will vaccinate (see chart, page 9).

Moreover, well before the vaccine arrived, messaging around the virus was mixed, confusing the public.


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