Just the Vax, Ma’am

The most effective way to persuade Republicans to get vaccinated is through sharing facts and data about the virus and vaccination. And doctors, not politicians, are the most effective messengers.

These are the findings of a focus group conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz in collaboration with the de Beaumont Foundation earlier this month. 

Political ideology divides Americans on pretty much everything these days, and vaccine skepticism is no exception. One recent poll found a third of Republicans say they won’t get the vaccine when it becomes available to them, compared to 10% of Democrats.

By the end of the focus group— which included 19 Republicans who voted for Trump in 2020 and said they were “maybe” or “probably not” going to get the vaccine— nearly all of them were more likely to get the vaccine. And they were primarily influenced by these five simple facts imparted by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC:

  • “If you get infected with the virus, it will go all over your body and stay there for at least a week and be much more likely to cause you long-term problems than the vaccine.”
  • “If you get the vaccine, it will prime your immune system, but then the vaccine is gone. It will not be with you anymore.”
  • “More than 90% of the doctors who have been offered this vaccine have chosen to get it.”
  • “The more we vaccinate, the faster we can get back to growing our economy and doing the things we want to do.”
  • “If people get vaccinated, we’re going to save at least 100,000 lives of Americans who would otherwise be killed by COVID.”

Republicans were also swayed by details of how the vaccines’ development built on several years of research, as well as personal anecdotes about the randomness and deadliness of the virus across all age groups. 

You can watch parts of the focus group session here.