Health messages to encourage vaccination during a pandemic or epidemic (search done in May 2020)

Added February 24, 2021

Citation: Lawes-Wickwar S, Ghio D, Tang MY, et al. A rapid systematic review of public responses to health messages encouraging vaccination against infectious diseases in a pandemic or epidemic. Vaccines. 2021;9(2):72.

What is this? Several vaccines have been shown to be effective against COVID-19. Existing research on the public’s responses to messages encouraging vaccination during a pandemic or epidemic might provide useful information for policy makers.

In this rapid systematic review, the authors searched for studies testing at least one type of health message on vaccination-related behaviour and behavioural influences. They restricted their searches to articles published in English and did the search in May 2020. They included 35 eligible studies; half of which scored highly in their quality assessment, and most of which reported messages for seasonal influenza (11 studies) or H1N1 influenza (11).

What works: Messages were more effective if they (a) used credible sources (e.g. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention); (b) used community-wide outreach methods including mixed media; (c) considered appropriate risk-reducing framing; and (d) were personally relevant, short and focused on the benefits of vaccination to society as a whole.

The authors of the review also recommended consulting local communities in the design and dissemination of messages to ensure they are acceptable and accessible by target groups.

What doesn’t work: Messages which over-emphasised the health benefits of vaccines and used terminology that the target populations could not understand had negative impacts on beliefs and intentions to take up a vaccine and were less acceptable to the public.

What’s uncertain: The most effective messaging medium (e.g. text message or TV broadcast) and intensity of delivery for improving vaccine uptake are uncertain.


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