Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

MEMBER MOMENTS: Boston Medical’s Study, Vaccine Messaging Works

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People are COVID-19 vaccine hesitant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose CovidVaxView page tracks vaccine uptake, intent to be vaccinated, and more on a weekly dashboard.

Using a weekly random-digit-dial cellular phone survey, the CDC tracks a number of metrics, including adult vaccine coverage. The data shows that only 21.4% of those age 18 and over have received the COVID vaccine. White, non-Hispanic adults have the highest vaccine rate (25.4%), while Hispanics have the lowest (13%).

A new study in NEJM Catalyst (subscription required) from Boston Medical Center details how the region’s largest safety net hospital undertook a Covid Response Program aimed at building vaccine confidence.

The program used traditional and social media channels, consistent messaging, “transparent dialogue,” and state and community partners to drive home the need for vaccine.

The study details how between December 2020 and June 2022, hundreds of posts, millions of impressions, use of TikTok videos and more in multiple languages helped bend the needle on vaccine acceptance.

“By 24 months into the program, 83% of patients in BMC primary care had received at least one shot, and 77% were fully vaccinated; however, notable differences existed by race or ethnicity,” according to the study. “Seventy-six percent of Black patients and 75% of Latine patients were fully vaccinated compared with 85% of Asian patients and 81% white patients. Key lessons learned include the importance of a multilingual, multimedia campaign and the need for bidirectional communication that could quickly shift to address evolving issues.”

MHA created a vaccine toolkit during the pandemic and tailored it since then for use of its membership. This page contains the toolkit as well as customizable fall and winter messaging, and messaging about seeking the “Right Care in the Right Place”