“No way I’m getting that vaccine. It hasn’t even been tested, and I heard it can cause ____!”
This is something we in the health care space have been hearing for months, and we felt compelled to act. Together with others working in digital engagement, we decided to address the misleading posts on social media that have cost so many lives and take on the coronavirus pandemic.
Our message is simple and clear: We encourage anyone who can get vaccinated to please do so. Effective, widespread vaccination is currently the only reasonable way for us to end the battle against COVID-19.
Today’s safe and effective vaccines are our way out of this pandemic, yet the extent of misinformation and disinformation around them and experts’ recommendations has been significant, even somewhat surprising. It’s time to unify all trusted messengers and vaccine advocates to combat misinformation and beat COVID-19. The successful deployment of vaccinations is going to depend on the trust the public has in its messengers.
So four of us came together with others and launched #ThisIsOurShot, a social media movement to amplify the voice of healthcare professionals as trusted messengers to promote COVID vaccination.
Three of us–Sunny Jha, Jay Bhatt, and Joseph Sakran–are physicians. Renee DiResta is a worldwide leader in the social media responsibility and accountability space who has written about vaccine disinformation, and Sakran also has tremendous experience in social media leading #ThisIsOurLane, a campaign to combat gun violence. We are all alumni of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a joint initiative of the presidential centers of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson that uses the lessons learned during the administrations of these former presidents to challenge future generations of leaders.
From an idea that began at PLS, our movement has grown to over 700 million social media impressions that train dozens of health care workers to be more effective communicators on social media and in their communities. The goal is to win back the narrative and encourage safe practices such as vaccination.
The devastating effects of this virus pale in comparison to any known side effects of vaccination. When working with social media, please be responsible. Be careful what you share, comment, or like. Verify the information you are getting from multiple legitimate and trusted sources.
Together we can overcome COVID-19, but only if we can separate the truth from the noise and deliver accurate messages to those who are vaccine curious.
Only then will we be able to put this pandemic and its terrible effect on our world behind us.