The deadly riot in our country's Capitol is a monument to the power of words. When abused, words can confuse, divide, incite, and even kill. But history has taught us that words also have the power to inform, inspire, unite and protect.
Since rioters broke through the doors of the Capitol on January 6, more than 40,000 Americans died of COVID-19. Yet the toll of this unfathomable pandemic is being overshadowed by the fallout of another presidential impeachment and the threat of more violence as our nation prepares for President-elect Biden's inauguration. With every second we waste on political resentment and bitterness, the virus is tightening its deadly grip on long-term health, security and prosperity.
Republicans have a historic opportunity to help turn the tide of this pandemic. The first crucial step is to recognize that the science is complete: masks and vaccines save lives. America's recovery depends on these two vital public health measures, which continue to be dangerously undermined. And while the national conversation has rightly focused on building vaccine confidence among hard-hit minority communities, there are two other groups we shouldn't overlook: young Republicans and rural Americans.
According to an survey we conducted at the end of December, Republicans are 20% less likely to get a vaccine than Democrats. In fact, about a third of Republicans aged 18-49 (32%) and Americans living in rural or farming communities (36%) say they will "certainly not" get vaccinated. Their concern is fueled by those who wish to mislead and manipulate the public's view of the vaccine. And as the pace of vaccine distribution will accelerate after the inauguration, this is a critical time for all political leaders to discuss the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Silence is complicit and allows misinformation to further distance us from what we all want: an end to this pandemic and a return to normal. In particular, because of the greater concern among their grassroots, Republican leaders at the local, state, and federal levels have a vital public health responsibility to encourage the acceptance of vaccines for everyone, everywhere. Their leadership can help build the vaccine confidence needed to protect the lives of millions of Americans and accelerate our economic recovery.
It starts with choosing the right words, and here's what works:
The end game is a return to normal. Yes, that means you spend less time talking about health and saving lives. Most Americans, especially Republicans, long for "a return to normal". While this message doesn't work for everyone, it's what motivates young Republicans the most.
"It's the economy, stupid." James Carville was right in 1992 and he would be right today. For those most concerned about the vaccine, they are motivated to get vaccinated as soon as possible to get the economy going and get people back to work. They recognize that a consequence of not taking the vaccine would mean more restrictions and more damage to the economy.
Keep Uncle Sam out. Participating in something truly historic, changing the course of history, or helping to unite the country are among the least effective messages. Avoid words like "National duty" (favored by Biden) and focus on the fact that taking the vaccine keeps people and their families safe and healthy on an individual and personal level.
Give everyone the space to make a choice. For most Americans, it's not about improving society. Telling people that getting the vaccine is "the right thing to do" just doesn't work. Don't teach people. They want the facts, and they want to know that the vaccine will keep their family safe.
Address security concerns. The biggest concerns for Americans are the potential long-term side effects, and to a slightly lesser extent the short-term side effects. We must emphasize that the chance of experiencing a serious side effect is less than 0.5%; mild side effects are normal signs that their body is building up protection; and most side effects should disappear within a few days.
Do not label. Using the term "hesitant vaccine" may appear judgmental. We need to validate those feelings, normalize concerns, and open a dialogue where questions can be answered and misinformation corrected. It's important to say 'I hear you' and & # 39; I understand your concerns & # 39; instead of discussing, debating and promoting our polarization.
As the spread of vaccines extends beyond the health workers and our oldest citizens, the talks will shift to personal choice. This is the critical time when many Americans are deciding whether to take the vaccine. And as we have seen in the aftermath of the riot, words spoken after the destruction come too late. If we do this right, we can ensure that our rural communities recover as quickly as our cities. We can bring production back to full capacity. We can return our children to class.
Just as words instigated unprecedented violence in our nation's Capitol, words can make a meaningful, measurable difference in ending the major public health crisis of the past 100 years. But only if our Republican leaders speak now and choose their words wisely.
. (tagsToTranslate) economic recovery (t) vaccine skepticism (t) Republicans (t) coronavirus vaccine