On Monday, Pfizer announced early results from its coronavirus vaccine trial that showed their vaccine is more than 90 percent effective – signaling that the vaccine may be closer than ever to being distributed.
Katharine Head, an associate professor of communication studies at the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, and a team of researchers are working to identify the best ways to educate the public about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to help reach “herd immunity” safely.
“Having really focused, targeted communication about vaccination has never been more important,” Head said. “While vaccination is a private, individual decision, it has public health ramifications, and public health experts agree that the launch of this vaccine will be the beginning of the end of the pandemic, something we can all get behind.”
Head believes now is the time to start having discussions about the vaccine to ensure it is widely taken once available. By beginning these important conversations, she says health communicators can educate the public about resources available so they are better equipped to make decisions once the vaccine hits the market.
Head is an expert in health communication. Her research focuses on health communication, and much of her scholarship has focused on how individuals communicate about vaccines and cancer screenings in the public and clinical contexts.