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How to Persuade the COVID Unvaccinated-Part 2

The response to the recent blog entry on persuading the COVID-19 non-vaccinated (NV) was overwhelming. Based on this response, I decided to devote another entry to this vital and relevant topic.

Persuasion Law of Verbal Packaging

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is warning in a new advisory that health misinformation is 'a serious threat to public health,' as administration officials grow increasingly concerned about misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines.”

Misinformation via social media and tech companies is believed by 2/3 of those unvaccinated. They even believe that COVID can be contracted by the vaccination! Murthy asserts, this is not true! Social media and tech companies must be responsible and held accountable.

“Sometimes those with the most followers are not credible, especially on health issues.” So doctors and the medical profession must partner with local trusted individuals and organizations to spread credible and scientific information.

“This misinformation is costing us lives.” Murthy urges that the United States frame COVID vaccination as a “human issue” and a “health issue,” not a political one.

This makes sense and it seems to mean that politicians from the President to the mayors should keep quiet and defer to health officials. Each time they speak, urging the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, reminds folks that this could be construed as a political issue. This would be great leadership, but politicians find it difficult to “defer.” They often believe that they are so persuasive and they may not be in this case.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared, “What I’m really hoping now is as we’re starting to see these cases, that people will take the message, see that they don’t want this to go on and to really go and get vaccinated now, so we can prevent what could happen in the fall.”

Note that I am quoting doctors not politicians. Doctors remind us that their role is to advise and inform, not to persuade. The doctors need to point out the benefits of vaccination to each person and to the children and Older Folks.

The Overwhelming Challenge Presented by Those Unvaccinated

David of Ohio lays out the difficult challenge:

Larry, I have no issue with being quoted-- but I would expect to be quoted accurately. And please add this to reasons why people are not convinced to take the vaccine. We have always taught that whenever a preacher, pastor, teacher of God's Word refuses to answer questions &/or tries to censor or muzzle Truth & free expression of ideas & facts, then be assured you have a cult & false religion. Likewise, since conservatives have been censored along with any doctor, scientist, politician who said anything contrary to liberal Biden, Fauci, then be assured, they are hiding truth, facts, etc. & are fake, false, & phony!

Laissez faire!! Let the people decide--but give them all the truth & facts. In addition, if the vaccine is effective as they say it is, they would not have to coerce, bribe, those to take the shot?!?! Also, what is the danger of getting the shot if one already has natural antibodies!? Also do not forget the feminist slogan re: abortion-- my body, my choice!? All of these points I've offered to you just goes to prove that the liberal democratic side has now awoken a sleeping giant!!!

1. Why would you even want to persuade the unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 shot(s) which are pure clinical trials with very little short term & absolutely no long term side effects known?

2. Your statistics are suspect as well as totally inaccurate!

3. Recent headlines in… Ohio radical liberal, socialist newspaper stated that just under 50% of County was vaccinated--- & now the rest of the story with facts/truth= actual fully vaccinated people in County by July 2021 is only 39%!!!!!!!!!!!

4. Less than 50% of working adults have been vaccinated as of July in USA.

5. Finding actual statistics on this pandemic will never happen because: A- all facilities that recorded COVID-19 deaths were given monetary incentives & of course sinful human beings called nearly every death to be COVID-19 , even though they recorded very low death totals on heart deaths, stroke & cancer deaths, AIDS-HIV deaths; B- Influenza A & B was almost non-existent!!

6. Even after being vaccinated, Fauci, Biden, County Health Commissioner, (Governor) DeWine & countless other doctors urged to still wear masks-- are you serious!! Where is the confidence in their clinical trial vaccines??

7. When will we get honest re: severe side effects, & they are many?

8. When will we show just a little compassion to anyone who displayed serious side effects immediately after getting the shot(s), instead of eye-rolling, & censoring those victims??Where is the compassion, or is that reserved for the select few?

9. On social media, why have they colluded to censor ALL medical info that does not agree with Biden, Fauci or doctors on the liberal side?? That alone causes suspicion, along with Fauci before Congress on May, 2020 saying vaccine may not be effective, as well as scores of other lies & flip-flops.

10. I have nearly 200 more questions & observations...........

Response to David

First, this is an accurate and complete quote from the emails sent to me and with his permission. I think his views reflect a minority of those who refuse to be vaccinated. So, the challenge is huge and downright exhausting or maybe impossible in this case. David’s views may reflect some in Congress who refuse to state whether they have been vaccinated, although there are suspicions that most have.

Some of what David describes may fit within the psychological concepts of reflection or boomerang or projection; that is, the reality could be the opposite of what is being stated. Maybe it is the other side that is being censored or not being listened to.

Latino Community Vaccine Skepticism is High

On CNN on July 15, a Nevada senator asserted that half of the Latino community has either lost someone to COVID or has had friends or family hospitalized. She thinks there are three reasons why Latinos are not being vaccinated:

1. They are working and have not had time to get vaccinated. Mobile units could solve this.

2. Misinformation, such as not knowing that the vaccination is free.

3. They are not trusting the information givers. Therefore, credible information must be given to local trusted people.

African-American Community Also Hesitant

Beyond many of the reasons stated above, they have the additional hesitancy due to historic government medical interventions. The churches become a major way to influence this group.

Persuasion Assistance from Dr. Bracho-Sanchez, Pediatrician, and Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen

As doctors, they do their best not to judge patients and their views on vaccinations. The want to engage them in conversation. They realize that the COVID-19 vaccine is new and fears come with newness.

Appeal to their familial circumstances

Appeal to their family obligations. Discern if they have older folks or children in their family and explain how COVID may affect them. Note the kids have a good chance of surviving COVID but there could be life-long after effects.

Cite scientific data

Skepticism to existing vaccines -- such as that for measles, mumps and rubella -- has been driven by concerns such as a spurious link to autism, which has been disproven by a significant body of research.

Study after study has shown that vaccinations are safe and effective for preventing disease.

And the track record for the COVID-19 vaccines has been particularly strong. Adverse reactions are extremely rare and the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, for instance, have shown an ability to prevent disease well above 90%.

Emphasize the social norm

This incorporates the Persuasion Law of Social Validation; that is, that everyone is doing it or not doing it. Approximately 29% of Evangelicals say they will not get the vaccine but the flip side to that is that 71% say they will. To reframe, this is a majority - way more than 50%. So, most of their group is already doing it. So, this becomes the social norm.

Share why you're getting vaccinated

Storytelling is a powerful persuasion tool. The doctors tend to share with their patients why they got vaccinated. Maybe it is to protect their children or their patients. The doctors try to discern what the patients are missing during the pandemic such as traveling, sporting events, going to movies, going to church, and explain how being vaccinated is the way back to traveling. Inform the patients that if 70-80% of the population is vaccinated, society can get back to the “new normal.”

The Power of Nice-Persuasion

I love the theme of this book: The Power of Nice-How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. The authors declare that one can be goal oriented and yet behave in a nice, kind fashion. We know that emotions are contagious and maybe so is niceness? Don’t treat the other side as your enemy, but instead seek to turn them around as your friend. Maybe their hesitancy is rooted in fear, lack of knowledge, or being uncomfortable.

Don’t keep a scoreboard in regard to who gives what and how.

My experience indicates that this works.

Are Testimonials of the Unvaccinated Who Become Vaccinated Effective?

Weekly we hear testimonials in the media of someone who resisted being vaccinated and then became ill or their children became ill or their family became ill. Are such testimonials effective in persuading the unvaccinated?

Generally, testimonies are effective persuasion.

Statistics have confirmed that customer testimonials are the most effective form of content, coming in at an 89% effectiveness rating, according to a 2014 report, compared to other content types.”

They are effective for three reasons:

-They create trust and proof.

-They appeal to emotions.

-They capture attention because it is usually a good story.

Follow the Research

The great research below captures the Persuasion Law of Dissonance. Most people are uncomfortable with dissonance and desire it to end. So in the research below the doctors or pharmacists create dissonance per text by saying the vaccine is free and here waiting for you specifically. The way to end the dissonance is to get vaccinated!

Katy Milkman who co-directs the Behavioral Change for Good Initiative which is in collaboration with the Penn Medicine Unit offers some great information on persuading the unvaccinated.

“Conducted with Walmart and two regional health systems—Penn Medicine and Geisinger—these studies reveal that simple communications that reminded individuals a flu shot was 'waiting' or 'reserved' for them proved most effective, boosting vaccination rates by up to 11%. The promising results can be adapted to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations.

The rationale for nudging people toward better decisions is simple and well-supported; most people intend to do what’s best for their health, for example, getting a vaccine, but have trouble garnering the motivation to take action. These text messages were designed to close this 'intention-action gap' by providing the necessary encouragement to follow-through on best intentions.

The significant increase in vaccination rates generated by using the 'reserved for you' reminder messaging is especially remarkable given the very low cost of these SMS-based interventions.” (Maybe ten cents per person?)


Persuasion is a vital art and could not be more important than during this health emergency. The magic persuasion formula is to appeal to:




One then tailors the persuasion approach according to whom one is trying to persuade. If the unvaccinated are burdened with misinformation from places like Facebook, doctors, pharmacies, and other medical personnel can persuade to logic by presenting the facts. For example, right now 99% of the folks who are dying form COVID-19 are the unvaccinated.

One might persuade by calling upon the values of their community, their neighborhood.

Finally, one might persuade by emotions, noting that being unvaccinated is endangering their loved ones.

Today, at least 70% of active military is at least partially vaccinated. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin implored the folks to do it for your family, for your neighbors, for your compadres, for your country….


See Recommended Books under “Blogs” drop down menu. Clicking on any book will lead one to the discounted Amazon site.

Roy J. Lewicki is the author of 'Essentials of Negotiation', published 2015 under ISBN 9780077862466 and ISBN 0077862465. Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education

The Conflict Resolution Training Program, Leader’s Manual, ISBN: 0-7879-6077-2. Prudence Bowman Kestner and Larry Ray

5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Getting Your Way Every Day.


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