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New Report: The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination: Recommendations to Enhance Acceptance, Trust, and Uptake

Center News


July 9, 2020 – The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Texas State University, and the Working Group on Readying Populations for COVID-19 Vaccine released a new report providing recommendations to US policymakers and practitioners on how to advance public understanding of, access to, and acceptance of future vaccines that would protect against COVID-19.

According to the report, The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination: Planning Recommendations Informed by Design Thinking and the Social, Behavioral, and Communication Sciences, despite the potential promise of several vaccine candidates, some US residents, particularly those most at risk of infection, may miss out on this potentially lifesaving public health measure due to concerns, such as

  • anxieties about whether COVID-19 vaccines are safe or effective,
  • mistrust of vaccine manufacturers and the agencies that regulate the industry and/or the public health authorities recommending the products, or
  • whether a COVID-19 vaccine will be affordable and administered in a place that is readily accessible and feels safe.

In the report, the authors offer recommendations for US vaccination planners and implementers, which, if put into place now, could help overcome potential hurdles when a vaccine becomes available.

Among the recommendations:

  • Earn the public’s confidence that vaccine allocation and availability are evenhanded. The US government should take steps to make the vaccine available at no cost for all US residents and publicly pledge that everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.
  • Make vaccination available in safe, familiar, and convenient places. Assess local vaccination capacities and address any inadequacies, and work with community members—particularly members of minority and other marginalized groups—to establish vaccination sites that will be accessible and feel safe.
  • Communicate in meaningful, relevant, and personal terms, to counter misinformation. The US government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and community spokespeople should be engaged in message development and communication efforts to help neutralize misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Establish independent representative bodies to instill public ownership of the vaccination program. The US government should form a national panel of experts, convened by a politically neutral entity, to review, synthesize, and report on best practices for engaging communities.

Overall, these recommendations are focused on putting people at the center of what the researchers define as a “revolutionary COVID-19 vaccine enterprise,” where communities can be active research partners, rather than passive study subjects. This vaccine enterprise approach includes using human-centered design principles (ie, design thinking) to help improve the planning and implementation of vaccination programs.

You can access the new report with executive summary here.