Changing the Conversation about COVID to Get More People Vaccinated

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This article talks about the type of messaging that is most effective at changing minds about vaccination and how we can provide that messaging through discussion about long COVID-19.

Specializes in Corrections, Psychiatry. Has 4 years experience.

What is the most effective type of COVID messaging to change minds?

Changing the Conversation about COVID to Get More People Vaccinated

How can we help stop the spread of COVID-19? The question isn’t so much about what we need to stop the spread, we know we need people to get vaccinated, wear masks, and practice social distance, but how do we convince people whose minds seem to be made up against doing any of these things?

The misinformation and political rhetoric have made this feel like an impossible task. We need our patients to listen to us, and we can feel defeated when they would rather believe a radio host than their health care providers. Giving up is not the answer. We need to change the way we speak about COVID-19 and the benefits of getting vaccinated. 

The messaging everyone has heard over and over again has been about full hospitals and ICU’s. We have talked about overworked and exhausted healthcare providers and the danger for patients this creates. We have begged people to wear masks to stop the spread and protect their community. We have told the heartbreaking stories of people who are asking for the vaccine just before they are intubated, and of the COVID-19 deniers that reverse their stance when they become seriously ill. It baffles us that, with all this information, people continue to deny that COVID-19 is a problem, or refuse to follow public health guidelines. It’s not personal to them, it doesn’t affect them, and it’s not a problem until it becomes personal.

When we talk to our patients we need to make it personal. Research on messaging to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates found that emphasizing personal benefits of vaccination increased participants' intention to get vaccinated more than any other type of messaging1. One way we can make the message personal is by talking about the long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection. There is more than ICU’s, and ventilators to talk about with our patients. How many times have you heard someone say they don’t have to worry about COVID because they are young, or healthy? In the context of severe illness and hospitalization, they are probably right. The majority of people infected with COVID-19 experience mild illness.

Of course anyone can experience severe illness, but for younger people, people without pre-existing conditions the threat of hospitalization or death is not personal. We need to educate our patients about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on their personal health. A study completed by the University of Arizona Health Sciences found that 68% of patients with mild or moderate covid experienced long COVID, only slightly less than those hospitalized with COVID2. Long COVID or Post COVID is defined as experiencing one or more symptoms lasting four or more weeks3. The most commonly reported symptoms from the University of Arizona study were: fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, and stress or anxiety4

The following is a list of the most common post-COVID symptoms5:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities (also known as post-exertional malaise)
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Cough
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever
  • Dizziness on standing (lightheadedness)
  • Rash
  • Mood changes
  • Change in smell or taste
  • Changes in menstrual period cycles

While there are limitations to the data, it seems the prevalence of these symptoms is high and may affect a large number of people. It remains to be seen how long these symptoms may last and how COVID-19 infection may impact a person’s overall health. It is important for healthcare providers to relay this information to patients who may not know that COVID 19 may have a long-term impact on their health or cause disability. Perhaps then we can change some people’s minds about getting vaccinated to protect themselves from infection and the long-term consequences of that infection. 


References

1Emphasize personal health benefits to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

2,4Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 in a non-hospitalized cohort: Results from the Arizona CoVHORT

3,5COVID-19 and Your Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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79 Comment(s)

PMFB-RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Traum Rapid Response. Has 16 years experience.

Vaccine mandates have proven highly effective at getting large numbers of people vaccinated.

    Hopefully we will have more and more of them so as to take back our freedom the unvaxxed have deprived us of.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

5 hours ago, PMFB-RN said:

Vaccine mandates have proven highly effective at getting large numbers of people vaccinated.

    Hopefully we will have more and more of them so as to take back our freedom the unvaxxed have deprived us of.

That and it is human nature not to care about something unless and until it affects us personally. So while this is an excellent article, I have said these things and more and it's all fallen on deaf ears. I am tiring of trying.

kdkout

Has 20 years experience.

If people listened, cared about their fellow man and weren’t so intellectually lazy, vaccine mandates would not have been necessary. 
Nothing I’ve said has worked. Until and unless people get sick and find themselves and their loved ones severely ill with covid, these messages fall on deaf ears. 

BeenThere2012, ASN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.

Same.  I can put my patients who refuse the vaccine in 2 groups…The ones who are angry about me asking if hey have had or want the vaccine, and those who are willing to discuss it, but ultimately choose against it.  The second group all say the same sort of thing.  “It’s too new”.  “I’m waiting until we know more.”  
 

I work in a Pediatric out-patient practice, so these conversations are about their kids.  That makes this a bit different in that parents are usually more protective of their kids than themselves, so it adds another layer.  What’s interesting to me is that the first group (the angry/defensive ones), refuse the flu vaccine as well.  

Sciencedude1, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Thinking-Critical Care.

For the past several years in nursing school I have been taught that nursing ethics involves fidelity, autonomy, beneficence, and justice. People who are are vaccinated with COVID19 mRNA vaccines run the risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis (CDC, 2021). Vaccine mandates that have inherit risks such as pericarditis and myocarditis, regardless of how small the risk is, go against autonomy which is an ethical principal that guides nursing professionals. "Where there is risk there should be choice."-Kyle

"All persons have intrinsic and unconditional worth, and therefore, should have the power to make rational decisions and moral choices, and each should be allowed to exercise his or her capacity for self-determination" (Varkey, 2020)

Also, since we are mandating these vaccines, what are we going to do with the individuals that develop injuries as a result and are not able to work? I am not aware of any kind of financial support for individuals who have been injured by vaccines that have been mandated. 

 

 

References

Varkey, B. (2020, June 4). Principles of clinical ethics and their application to practice. Medical Principles and Practice. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/509119.

CDC. (2021). Myocarditis and pericarditis after mrna COVID-19 vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from https://www.CDC.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/myocarditis.html.

13 minutes ago, Sciencedude1 said:

... People who are are vaccinated with COVID19 mRNA vaccines run the risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis (CDC, 2021). ...

[...]

Run the risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis?  From your cited CDC reference:

Quote

CDC and its partners are actively monitoring reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination. Active monitoring includes reviewing data and medical records and evaluating the relationship to COVID-19 vaccination.

[...]

Cases of myocarditis reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) have occurred [emphasis added]:

[...]

And again from your cited CDC reference:

Quote

[...]

Yes. CDC continues to recommend that everyone aged 12 years and older get vaccinated for COVID-19. The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.

[...]

Hardly a damning condemnation.  

 

Sciencedude1, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Thinking-Critical Care.

11 minutes ago, chare said:

Run the risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis?  From your cited CDC reference:

And again from your cited CDC reference:

Hardly a damning condemnation.  

 

You missed the point. Myocarditis and Pericarditis is a risk and it appears that the CDC is attempting to quantify the risk. Regardless if it is a small or moderate risk, there is a risk.

"Cases of myocarditis reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)external icon have occurred:

After mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), especially in male adolescents and young adults,

More often after the second dose

Usually within several days after vaccination"-CDC

 

4 minutes ago, Sciencedude1 said:

You missed the point. Myocarditis and Pericarditis is a risk and it appears that the CDC is attempting to quantify the risk. Regardless if it is a small or moderate risk, there is a risk. Since there is risk there should be choice.

[...] 

No, I didn't.  There's also a risk of both myocarditis and/or pericarditis following many common viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2.  

7 minutes ago, Sciencedude1 said:

[...]

Cases of myocarditis reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)external icon have occurred:

[...]

I think you're placing too much emphasis on VAERS data.  

Sciencedude1, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Thinking-Critical Care.

2 minutes ago, chare said:

No, I didn't.  There's also a risk of both myocarditis and/or pericarditis following many common viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2.  

I think you're placing too much emphasis on VAERS data.  

I am placing emphasis on respecting the patients autonomy. An ethical principal that is at the foundation of nursing. 

35 minutes ago, Sciencedude1 said:

I am placing emphasis on respecting the patients autonomy. An ethical principal that is at the foundation of nursing. 

How do you see this as not respecting the patient's autonomy?  Even in the setting of "a mandate," it's still their choice whether they take the vaccination, or not.  

Sciencedude1, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Thinking-Critical Care.

1 hour ago, chare said:

How do you see this as not respecting the patient's autonomy?  Even in the setting of "a mandate," it's still their choice whether they take the vaccination, or not.  

The government mandating people being fired for not being vaccinated is a form of coercion. Coercion is not consent and takes the power of choice away from an individual. Autonomy is all about the patient choosing what medical treatment they will receive or not receive.