How to recognize and counter vaccine apathy

(Credit: Getty Images)

There’s a lot of talk about vaccine hesitancy, but less about vaccine apathy. Here’s what that means and how to reach people in that frame of mind.

Vaccine apathy isn’t hesitancy because this group isn’t weighing the decision whether they feel the vaccine is safe—for the apathetic, the decision isn’t even on the radar.

Read a transcript of the podcast episode here.

Certain psychographics—groups of people defined by interests, attitudes, or lifestyles rather than demographic differences like income, age, or race—may tend more toward vaccine apathy, explains Stacy Wood, professor of marketing at North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management.

“These might be people who feel very healthy, very strong, think that it’s unlikely that they’re going to get sick because they live in a low density area. They just don’t feel as at risk,” explains Wood in the podcast episode above. “Another relevant psychographic group is people who have distrust or experience with systemic racism in health care.”

According to Wood, the majority of the messaging out there aims to convince the vaccine hesitant to get the vaccine. And those messages aren’t compelling to the apathetic.

“The hesitant person is thinking a lot, should I, or shouldn’t I?” Wood says. “And the vaccine apathetic person has just taken this off their to-do list. It’s not even in that mental consideration set of, should I do this or not?”

So what works when you want to reach the vaccine apathetic?

“The thing we need to do is we need to make it super convenient, like socks at the cash register at Target,” Wood says. “So there need to be pop-up clinics. It’s got to be somewhere where people already are, at the airport, just somewhere where you are waiting and you’re like, you know what? I guess I should get my vaccine. It wasn’t top priority for me, but I am here now. And I’ve got a moment and there they are.

“The second thing is to give people messaging that isn’t necessarily that top, most expert endorser, but people who particular groups will pay attention to, people who grab your attention, people who are likable, who create positive emotion. For the vaccine apathetic, the stuff that grabs your attention is stuff that’s happening right now to you.”

Source: NC State