Crisis Communication During Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout

2021-05-27 by Jim Crickell
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When it comes to the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines, communicators everywhere face a very critical situation to get the narrative right. Last month, when the FDA and CDC announced that there would be a temporary pause on the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and people were rightly confused. After a few reports of “rare and severe” blood clots appeared in people who received the specific vaccine and the announcement came after nearly 7 million doses were administered.

Once the reports were released the company Johnson & Johnson also released a statement about the newfound developments, using phrases such as “open communication” as well as “extremely rare”. The company released the statement in an attempt to demonstrate to the public that it would be working with the right channels to find a solution without minimizing the situation.

Companies need to establish a clear and transparent line of communication with the public during times like that. It’s a time when the public should be receiving consistent and timely information. The people will need to understand the reasons behind the pause of the vaccine administration. They should also be informed on how to proceed should they find themselves in such situations where someone may need additional treatment due to a blood clot.

Additionally, communicators should be making the situation clear in terms of medical and scientific contexts. That’s because when the statements by the FDA and CDC were made, there were only six cases of blood clots out of nearly 7 million administered vaccine doses. That way the public will have an easier time understanding the risk of contracting the virus. Furthermore, they will also understand that the underlying consequences are far greater than the vaccine’s side effects.

Since immunization is so vital in protecting individuals from various diseases, including the Covid-19 virus. Global organizations should be strengthening the communication with the public regarding any potential vaccine safety issues.

The current digital landscape allows any individual that has a negative opinion about vaccines and their potential safety issues to freely voice their views without any input from professionals. That’s precisely why communicators should be proactive in their messaging , approaches only distribute messages that are based on evidence as well as facts.

When cases of vaccine suspension happen, such as with the AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the attention and concern from the public are bound to increase. Any related information to such situations is important to many people, but especially those that were recently immunized, or had one of their family members receive the vaccine.

To communicate effectively during those types of situations communicators should be conducting; research and analysis on the knowledge, attitude, and practices of the target audience. Additionally, communicators should also be prepared beforehand with relevant and appropriate messages regarding vaccine safety and efficacy, to be able to counteract any negative publicity from the media. That way they’ll be better prepared to reduce the public’s concerns and anxieties regarding the vaccines