The Race for the COVID-19 Vaccine Continues

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The Race for the COVID-19 Vaccine Continues; Is the Public Willing to Take a Shot?

The digital misinformation campaign around COVID-19 has relied upon the techniques of the anti-vaccine movement. This includes discrediting public health officials, raising concerns about vaccine safety, and making claims that vaccination is primarily profit-driven. But how can the medical and pharmaceutical companies communicate better? We’ll share some insights about emerging narratives about vaccines to help you understand this concern and take action as a brand.

A Lack of Trust

Vaccine hesitancy is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a top ten global threat. According to anthropologist Heidi Larson, this issue is not a misinformation problem, but a relationship one. The individual’s refusal of vaccines despite its availability comes from a lack of trust in the processes, policies, and stakeholders involved in vaccine development.

We conducted a survey of recent news articles using natural language processing and network analysis and found that out of the 2,961 vaccine-related stories published between July 1 – August 19, safety concerns were discussed in 739 (24.96%) articles while trust was discussed in 169 (5.71%). These stories revealed growing public distrust in the efforts of governments around the world to rapidly produce COVID-19 vaccines, directly impacting the overarching goal of rescuing a stagnating global economy while containing the spread of the virus.Skepticism about vaccinations was already on the rise before the pandemic due to the Dengvaxia controversy in 2017, with this growing vaccine hesitancy being directly linked to the recent re-emergence of polio in the country. Without understanding and addressing the pressing issue of eroding trust in vaccines, building the public’s confidence for COVID-19 vaccine candidates will be a stern challenge.

Fear and Confusion

Vaccine hesitancy also poses a serious issue: the reigniting of potential health threats. Polio has resurfaced after the Philippines has been declared polio-free by WHO for 19 years, prompting the national government to include polio in their immunization initiatives. In spite of WHO’s emphasis on immunization, the number of unvaccinated individuals continues to grow. More and more people are thinking twice of availing vaccinations out of fear of contracting the virus. Other health concerns like cancer screening, treatment and vaccination programs have taken a backseat, not only due to financial issues, but because of this apprehension. Around 19% or 58,583 children in the province of Laguna, for example, failed to receive their first dose of polio vaccine.

The government’s efforts to combat vaccine-preventable diseases is becoming a losing battle, as any interruption in vaccination could cause a secondary health or economic crisis to emerge

Communication in the New Normal

Vaccine hesitancy isn’t just a health issue, it’s a communication issue, as well. As a brand in the new normal, it’s become even more important to understand and become part of conversations like these. But how should you decide which storylines to take part in? Learning how to identify and analyze constructed narratives provides you with a deeper, multi-layered understanding of your audience, and gives you an edge.

Forming Insights Through Narratives

Through a process called Narrative Mining, we are able to identify distinct themes, narratives, and storylines from a large mass of information such as news articles and social media posts. Essentially, it uncovers the three elements of a narrative:

Forming Insights Through Narratives

Narrative mining is a process we’ve developed. It’s about identifying what stories need to be told and making sure those stories connect to a larger narrative. It includes strategizing, execution, measuring success, and improving your approach.Vaccine hesitancy and the reemergence of other diseases are only a few of the storylines the team was able to pick up. To get an idea of other emerging narratives, you can check out a preview of the team’s preliminary report.

Make sure you’re heard.