Message Strategies and Examples

Focus on the benefits

Trying to scare or shame people into health decisions can backfire. Instead, use positive framing to highlight the benefits of vaccination — and remember to include benefits beyond personal protection from COVID-19. Try these tips:

Strategy:
Rather than getting “back to normal”, focus on moving forward to a brighter future. That way, you can appeal to people who had less positive college experiences before the pandemic.
Sample message:
Let's vax forward to a better school year.

Strategy:
Highlight exciting opportunities for vaccinated people — like campus and off-campus events and activities that aren't safe if you're unvaccinated.
Sample message:
Vax for graduation with all your friends and family. Vax to hang out with your friends without worrying about the virus. Vax forward.

Strategy:
Frame vaccination as a team effort to keep the whole campus community safe. College audiences are more likely than the general public to be motivated by a sense of shared community and purpose.
Sample message:
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best thing you can do to keep your campus community healthy and safe.

Strategy:
Emphasize the need to protect others. College students may not see COVID-19 as a serious risk to their personal health — but they still want to protect people at higher risk.
Sample message:
COVID-19 could be very serious for people on campus with disabilities and chronic health problems. Get a COVID-19 vaccine to slow the spread and keep our whole campus community safe.

Stress vaccine safety

Safety is a key concern when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines—and that's understandable. After all, we've never lived through a global viral pandemic before. The good news is that we have overwhelming evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe — so don't shy away from addressing this topic! Try these tips:

Strategy:
Provide clear information about common short-term side effects and what to expect after getting vaccinated.
Sample message:
It's normal to have some side effects — like running a fever and feeling tired and achy — for a day or 2 after getting vaccinated. These side effects are signs that your body is building up protection, and that means the vaccine is working.

Strategy:
Stress that long-term health risks from getting COVID are much greater than any potential side effects of the vaccines.
Sample message:
Researchers haven't found any long-term side effects from COVID-19 vaccines. But they have found long-term health problems from getting COVID-19 — even in people who didn't have any symptoms when they were first infected. Experts agree that it's much safer to get vaccinated than to risk getting sick with COVID-19.

Strategy:
Describe the vaccine development process and explain that while researchers moved fast to produce and study the vaccines, they didn't skip any safety steps.
Sample message:
Researchers were able to speed up the process for developing COVID-19 vaccines with help from the government. But they didn't skip any safety steps.