An ongoing dialogue on HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases,
April 11th, 2021
Poll: Will This Video Change Anyone’s Mind About Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine?
Watch this video. It’s a minute long:
I first heard about the video because, as mentioned before, I play in a regular poker game with a group of smart friends. Naturally, the in-person game, which started sometime in the early days of the 21th century, has been on hold since March of last year. One can barely imagine any activity more efficient for respiratory virus transmission than a bunch of people clustered around a small table, playing cards, chatting, eating snacks, and consuming beverages.
But we still play online, which one of our players estimates is approximately 64.7% as fun as the face-to-face game. So it’s quite appropriate that the video was sent around to all of us this past week after one of our online games. It came from Mo, a skillful player whose name sounds like it’s right out of a movie based on a tricky poker hustle.
I don’t think he expected this response from Mark (another poker expert) or me (a relative hack):
Mark: Just a big tech conspiracy.
Me: I can feel the microchip right under my biceps muscle.
Mo: Such cynics! Of course advertising by definition is supposed to manipulate you. But what’s wrong with being made to feel good about something good?
I agree this video is brilliant advertising and did make me feel good. It’s downright wonderful. The stark simplicity (always an enticing strength of a Google search), the music, the sound effects, the use of different languages, and, most importantly, the broad range of activities put on hold now possible again with vaccination — they all work together to convey a powerful and moving message.
No wonder some of the YouTube commenters wrote that they cried while watching it.
But will it convince anyone to get the vaccine who is otherwise not doing so?
Not so sure about that, but suspect not many. Why?
Our vaccine-eligible population, at least here in the United States, falls into various groups:
1. Most want the vaccine. They can’t wait. They signed up the very first day they were eligible. Or drove long distances to find a pharmacy that had extra shots. They watched the vaccine criteria in their states closely, hoping they and their loved ones would be candidates. Before then, they dropped in at end of the day at vaccination sites, eager for leftovers. When finally getting the vaccine, they were overwhelmed with emotion, gratitude, and relief. Maybe they took a vaccine selfie. Then they helped others navigate the process.
In short, this group loves this one-minute video. (So did all the poker players, for the record — including Mark.)
2. Some are on the fence because of a medical reason. They worry the vaccines are too new. That they might make their underlying autoimmune disease worse. Or they have a history of terrifying, life-threatening allergies to medications and maybe even vaccines. Or they are pregnant, or planning pregnancy. Or they had a rare, very severe side effect in the past to another vaccine, and worry these will do the same.
(All us ID doctors have been asked about people with Guillain-Barre syndrome after a flu shot and whether they can safely receive a COVID-19 vaccine. We say it’s safe — at least as far as we know.)
These are all legitimate concerns, for which there are no easy answers. People in this group might find the video well done, but it’s unlikely to alter their decision-making.
3. Some won’t get the vaccine since they come from marginalized groups. They might know about how the medical community excluded them from research in the past. Or conducted unethical studies. Or treated them poorly in a clinical context, so they inherently distrust our messages. Or they don’t speak English, and no culturally appropriate vaccine information is available. Or they have limited access to regular medical care.
I suspect this group won’t even see this video — where is it being distributed? — or if they do, they will distrust it.
4. Some await herd immunity, so they believe if they wait long enough, they won’t need to get the vaccine — ever. They are analogous to the parents who seek out “non-medical exemptions” for their children so that their kids won’t have to get the recommended childhood immunizations.
This group — particularly selfish, I should add — will watch this video and hope that it will convince others to get the shots.
5. Some are anti-vaxxers, or conspiracy theorists, or political extremists, or some combination of these factors. They will see in this video various hidden messages proving that the vaccines allow 5G mobile networks to take over their brainwaves.
I look at these five groups, and wonder — is this video going to sway anyone from Groups 2-5?
Will it, as cleverly put by Tom — another poker mate — “move the needle?”
What do you think? And why?