The 'we're all in this together' vaccine
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has radically revised downward its numbers of people killed only by coronavirus without co-morbidities. While U.S. deaths in the second and third quarters of 2020 are above normal, if a person died of coronavirus, he most likely was old and had something else seriously wrong with him.
At first, there was a big unknown factor surrounding the coronavirus, and given that lack of information, a two-week shutdown probably was justified. But after months of personal, social, emotional, and financial destruction, we're seeing with our own lyin' eyes that what some officials claim is repeatedly off.
Of course, careful people educate themselves, take precautions, and become aware of their situations. Yet the media drone on like the old Soviet Pravda: deaths are rising, social distance, wash your hands, wear your mask, we're all in this together. Deaths are rising, social distance, wash your hands, wear your mask, we're all in this together...
Thus the joke: the Amish don't have the coronavirus because they don't have televisions.
But there's another phase coming. Not only are researchers working day and night to rush to market some kind of vaccine, but they're also researching ways to make you take your medicine. Because health officials are shocked — shocked!!! — that a fifth of Americans say they won't take a coronavirus vaccine, and another 31 percent are unsure. That means half of us are not totally onboard.
While results have not been released, Yale recently completed a study on what might motivate Americans to take the vaccine. Here's a link to an outline of the study, and it's worth examining. Essentially, Yale researchers want to know if people would be motivated to take the vaccine based on a straightforward appeal. Or would research subjects be willing to take the vaccine to restore personal freedom or economic freedom? Perhaps people would be vaccinated mainly for the health of themselves or their loved ones. Or would they do it to strengthen the economy?
Then the researchers are looking at how people might be pressured to conform. They want to know if subjects would respond to guilt or embarrassment for not being vaccinated and spreading sickness. Or there's the anger factor: would they spread the disease and be angry with themselves because they didn't get vaccinated?
Finally, Yale's research attempts to determine if people would accept the vaccine if it is backed by science or because of bravery as in "firefighters, doctors, and front line medical workers are brave. Those who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are not brave."
To soften us up, you'll probably hear more talk in coming days about a coronavirus vaccine. There'll be the announcement of a breakthrough. Then the logistics of getting it to market. Then the rush of those wanting to be vaccinated.
After that? Well, that's where the persuasion begins. Maybe Yale's experiments will help them fashion it. And it's significant that in the 10 distinct motivation experiments (plus one control and one baseline straightforward appeal), seven use some variation of the same basic language:
"We're all in this together."
A retired marketing professor, Mike Landry is a freelance writer in Northwest Arkansas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.