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Message Moves that Build Vaccine Confidence

Est. 3 minute read

Here is a short list of five key moves to keep in mind as you navigate your way through conversations with families who have not yet vaccinated their child against COVID-19.

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Building confidence in the childhood COVID-19 vaccine can be hard—but clear, trust-based communication can help. Here is a short list of five key moves to keep in mind as you navigate your way through conversations with families who have not yet vaccinated their children against COVID-19. 


KEY MOVE: Think about how you want people to feel after talking to you about the vaccine.

Parents and caregivers want more information about the vaccine, but they also want to feel confident they are taking good advice. In the end, families are likely to place their trust in you based on how much they think you care, not just how much they think you know. To be effective with families who aren’t fully confident in the COVID-19 vaccine, take care to demonstrate care, compassion, and respect in every interaction. 

See our “Messenger Mindset” resource to explore ways to manage the emotional tone of a conversation.


KEY MOVE: Engage families in ways that earn and build their trust in YOU.

A personalized, nonjudgmental “listen and learn” approach is essential to building parents’ and caregivers’ confidence in childhood vaccines. When we listen to parents/caregivers and respond to the specific points they make, our communications are not only more focused, they are more effective. 

See our “Building Trust in the Moment” resource to learn more about motivational interviewing, a powerful technique for building trust while gathering information on health topics.


KEY MOVE: Identify the mindset(s) revealed in what families say.

To communicate effectively, we can’t just think about what we will say; we need to also consider where people are coming from. When we look carefully at what people think and say about the childhood COVID-19 vaccine, we can see common patterns that come up again and again. Spotting those patterns in a particular conversation helps us understand our conversation partner more deeply and can help us maintain a posture of genuine respect for people’s fears, concerns, or confusion. It also helps us decide how to respond.

See our resource “Family Mindsets: What to Listen For” to learn more about the common mindsets that researchers have identified. 


KEY MOVE: Select and offer information that responds to the mindset you identified.

Personalizing our responses is one of the most powerful things we can do to build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. 

When you encounter a confident mindset in the parent or caregiver, affirm it and add more detail that helps to strengthen it. When you encounter a mindset that undermines confidence in the vaccine, respond to it with a carefully matched message that speaks directly to the type of concern the person shared. If you hear multiple mindsets in the conversation, select one to focus on as a target of change. 

See our resource “Moving Mindsets: Techniques for Redirecting Thinking” to learn more about helpful responses to the mindsets we all encounter frequently.


KEY MOVE: Talk about the vaccine as something that trains the immune system to recognize the virus.

There are different ways of explaining how vaccines work—and research shows that some undermine confidence in the vaccine, while others can help to build it. For example, it’s better to emphasize that immunizations work with the body to maintain health than it is to talk about the vaccine as fighting against the virus. Explain that the COVID-19 vaccine works by training the body’s immune system to sense and recognize this new virus, so that it can jump into action when their child comes into contact with the disease.

See our resource “Words to Watch” for more on language that can undermine confidence. Check out “Moving Mindsets: Techniques for Redirecting Thinking” to explore helpful messages and framing techniques.


Next: Must-Have Messenger Mindset (Est. 3 minute read)