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An Overview of the Vaccine Debate

Looking at Both Sides of the Argument

There is a wealth of research demonstrating the efficacy and safety of vaccines —including how some have virtually eradicated infectious diseases that once killed millions. However, this has done little to sway those who believe that untold harms are being hidden from the American public.

The vaccine debate—including the argument as to whether vaccines are safe, effective, or could cause conditions like autism —has received a lot of attention from the media in recent years. With so much conflicting information being publicized, it can be a challenge to discern what is true and what is not. Therefore, it is important to learn the facts before making health decisions.

Claims and Controversy

Those who are part of the anti-vaccination movement include not only non-medical professionals but several scientists and healthcare providers who hold alternative views about vaccines and vaccination in general.

Some notable examples include:

  • British healthcare provider Andrew Wakefield, who in 1998 published research linking the MMR vaccine and autism . That study has since been retracted, and he was later removed from the medical registry in the United Kingdom for falsifying scientific data.
  • Pediatrician Bob Sears, who wrote the bestseller "The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for your Child ," which suggested that many essential childhood vaccines were "optional." However, he was subsequently put on probation by the Medical Review Board of California in 2018 for alleged medical negligence and the inappropriate writing of medical exemptions for vaccinations.
  • Dr. Jane M. Orient, director of the Association of American Healthcare Providers and Surgeons, who was among the leading opponents of the COVID-19 vaccine and one of the leading proponents of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 during the pandemic.

These opposing views and claims, along with other information promoted by the news and social media, have led some people to question whether they know everything they need to know about vaccines.

Common Concerns Regarding Vaccines

The arguments made against vaccines are not new and have been made well before the first vaccine was developed for smallpox back in the 18th century.

The following are some of the common arguments against vaccines:

  • Vaccines contain "toxic" ingredients that can lead to an assortment of chronic health conditions such as autism.
  • Vaccines are a tool of "Big Pharma," in which manufacturers are willing to profit off of harm to children.
  • Governments are "pharma shills," meaning they are bought off by pharmaceutical companies to hide cures or approve drugs that are not safe.
  • A child’s immune system is too immature to handle vaccines , leading the immune system to become overwhelmed and trigger an array of abnormal health conditions.
  • Natural immunity is best , suggesting that a natural infection that causes disease is "better" than receiving a vaccine that may cause mild side effects.
  • Vaccines are not tested properly , suggesting a (highly unethical) approach in which one group of people is given a vaccine, another group is not, and both are intentionally inoculated with the same virus or bacteria.
  • Infectious diseases have declined due in part to improved hygiene and sanitation , suggesting that hand-washing and other sanitary interventions are all that are needed to prevent epidemics.
  • Vaccines cause the body to "shed" virus , a claim that is medically true, although the amount of shed virus is rarely enough to cause infection.

The impact of anti-vaccination claims has been profound. For example, it has led to a resurgence of measles in the United States and Europe, despite the fact that the disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000.

Studies have suggested that the anti-vaccination movement has cast doubt on the importance of childhood vaccinations among large sectors of the population. The added burden of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to further declines in vaccination rates.

There is also concern that the same repercussions may affect COVID-19 vaccination rates—both domestically and abroad. Ultimately, vaccine rates must be high for herd immunity to be effective.

According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of complete recommended vaccination among babies age 5 months has declined from 66.6% in 2016 to 49.7% by May 2020. Declines in vaccination coverage were seen in other age groups as well.

Benefits of Vaccination

Of the vaccines recommended by the CDC, the benefits of immunization are seen to overwhelmingly outweigh the potential risks. While there are some people who may need to avoid certain vaccines due to underlying health conditions, the vast majority can do so safely.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are five important reasons why your child should get the recommended vaccines:

  • Immunizations can save your child’s life . Consider that polio once killed up to 30% of those who developed paralytic symptoms. Due to polio vaccination, the disease is no longer a public health concern in the United States.
  • Vaccination is very safe and effective . Injection site pain and mild, flu-like symptoms may occur with vaccine shots. However, serious side effects , such as a severe allergic reaction, are very rare.
  • Immunization protects others . Because respiratory viruses can spread easily among children, getting your child vaccinated not only protects your child but prevents the further spread of disease.
  • Immunizations can save you time and money . According to the non-profit Borgen Project, the average cost of a measles vaccination around the world is roughly $1.76, whereas the average cost of treating measles is $307. In the end, the cost of prevention is invariably smaller than the cost of treatment.
  • Immunization protects future generations . Smallpox vaccinations have led to the eradication of smallpox . Rubella (German measles) vaccinations have helped eliminate birth defects caused by infection of pregnant mothers in the developed world. With persistence and increased community uptake, measles could one day be declared eliminated (again) as well.

A Word From Verywell

If you have any questions or concerns about vaccinations, do not hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider or your child's pediatrician.

If a vaccine on the immunization schedule has been missed, speak to a healthcare provider before seeking the vaccination on your own (such as at a pharmacy or clinic). In some cases, additional doses may be needed.

Vaccines Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide

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Eggerton L.  Lancet retracts 12-year-old article linking autism to MMR vaccines .  CMAJ . 2010 Mar 9; 182(4):e199-200. doi:10.1503/cmaj.109-3179

Park A. Doctor behind vaccine-autism link loses license . Time .

Offit PA, Moser CA.  The problem with Dr Bob's alternative vaccine schedule .  Pediatrics.  2009 Jan;123 (1):e164-e169. doi:10.1542/peds.2008-2189

Before the Medical Board of California, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Robert William Sears, M.D., Case No. 800-2015-012268 .

Stolberg SG. Anti-vaccine doctor has been invited to testify before Senate committee . The New York Times.

Wolfe RM, Sharp LK.  Anti-vaccinationists past and present . BMJ. 2002;325(7361):430-2. doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7361.430

Agley J, Xiao Y. Misinformation about COVID-19: Evidence for differential latent profiles and a strong association with trust in science . BMC Public Health. 2021;21:89. doi:10.1186/s12889-020-10103-x

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles history .

Hussain A, Ali S, Ahmed M, Hussain S. The anti-vaccination movement: a regression in modern medicine .  Cureus . 2018;10(7): e2919. doi:10.7759/cureus.2919

Bramer CA, Kimmins LM, Swanson R, et al. Decline in child vaccination coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic — Michigan Care Improvement Registry, May 2016–May 2020 . MMWR. 2020 May;69(20):630-1. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6920e1

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why vaccinate .

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Poliomyelitis .

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making the vaccine decision .

Borgen Project. What is the cost of measles in the developed world? .

By Vincent Iannelli, MD  Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years. 

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Vaccines have been a topic of heated debate in recent years, with discussions often polarized between staunch advocates and vocal skeptics. This essay argues in favor of vaccination, highlighting its critical role in public health, the prevention of infectious diseases, and the broader social responsibility to maintain herd immunity. The benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks, making them an essential component of modern healthcare.

Another critical aspect of vaccination is the concept of herd immunity. Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, making its spread from person to person unlikely. This not only protects those who are vaccinated but also those who cannot be vaccinated, such as newborns, elderly individuals, or those with certain medical conditions. By choosing to vaccinate, individuals contribute to the greater good, safeguarding the most vulnerable members of society from potentially life-threatening diseases.

Furthermore, the anti-vaccination movement poses a significant risk to public health. The spread of misinformation and distrust in vaccines leads to lower vaccination rates, which can result in outbreaks of preventable diseases. This was seen in the recent measles outbreaks in various parts of the world, a direct consequence of declining vaccination rates. These outbreaks not only endanger public health but also place unnecessary strain on healthcare systems.

In conclusion, the overwhelming scientific evidence supports the efficacy and safety of vaccines. They are a cornerstone of public health, preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and ensuring the safety of the population as a whole through herd immunity. Vaccination is not just a personal choice; it is a social responsibility. The risks posed by vaccines are minimal compared to the significant health benefits they offer, making them an essential health intervention for individuals and society at large.

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The Morning Newsletter

Vaccine Persuasion

Many vaccine skeptics have changed their minds.

argumentative essay topics vaccines

By David Leonhardt

When the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll at the start of the year and asked American adults whether they planned to get vaccinated, 23 percent said no.

But a significant portion of that group — about one quarter of it — has since decided to receive a shot. The Kaiser pollsters recently followed up and asked these converts what led them to change their minds . The answers are important, because they offer insight into how the millions of still unvaccinated Americans might be persuaded to get shots, too.

First, a little background: A few weeks ago, it seemed plausible that Covid-19 might be in permanent retreat, at least in communities with high vaccination rates. But the Delta variant has changed the situation. The number of cases is rising in all 50 states .

Although vaccinated people remain almost guaranteed to avoid serious symptoms, Delta has put the unvaccinated at greater risk of contracting the virus — and, by extension, of hospitalization and death. The Covid death rate in recent days has been significantly higher in states with low vaccination rates than in those with higher rates:

(For more detailed state-level charts, see this piece by my colleagues Lauren Leatherby and Amy Schoenfeld Walker. The same pattern is evident at the county level, as the health policy expert Charles Gaba has been explaining on Twitter.)

Nationwide, more than 99 percent of recent deaths have occurred among unvaccinated people, and more than 97 percent of recent hospitalizations have occurred among the unvaccinated, according to the C.D.C. “Look,” President Biden said on Friday, “the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.”

The three themes

What helps move people from vaccine skeptical to vaccinated? The Kaiser polls point to three main themes.

(The themes apply to both the 23 percent of people who said they would not get a shot, as well as to the 28 percent who described their attitude in January as “wait and see.” About half of the “wait and see” group has since gotten a shot.)

1. Seeing that millions of other Americans have been safely vaccinated.

Consider these quotes from Kaiser’s interviews :

“It was clearly safe. No one was dying.” — a 32-year-old white Republican man in South Carolina “I went to visit my family members in another state and everyone there had been vaccinated with no problems.” — a 63-year-old Black independent man in Texas “Almost all of my friends were vaccinated with no side effects.” — a 64-year-old Black Democratic woman in Tennessee

This suggests that emphasizing the safety of the vaccines — rather than just the danger of Covid, as many experts (and this newsletter) typically do — may help persuade more people to get a shot.

A poll of vaccine skeptics by Echelon Insights, a Republican firm, points to a similar conclusion. One of the most persuasive messages, the skeptics said, was hearing that people have been getting the vaccine for months and it is “working very well without any major issues.”

2. Hearing pro-vaccine messages from doctors, friends and relatives.

For many people who got vaccinated, messages from politicians, national experts and the mass media were persuasive. But many other Americans — especially those without a college degree — don’t trust mainstream institutions. For them, hearing directly from people they know can have a bigger impact.

“Hearing from experts,” as Mollyann Brodie, who oversees the Kaiser polls, told me, “isn’t the same as watching those around you or in your house actually go through the vaccination process.”

Here are more Kaiser interviews:

“My daughter is a doctor and she got vaccinated, which was reassuring that it was OK to get vaccinated.” — a 64-year-old Asian Democratic woman in Texas “Friends and family talked me into it, as did my place of employment.” — a 28-year-old white independent man in Virginia “My husband bugged me to get it and I gave in.” — a 42-year-old white Republican woman in Indiana “I was told by my doctor that she strongly recommend I get the vaccine because I have diabetes.” — a 47-year-old white Republican woman in Florida

These comments suggest that continued grass-roots campaigns may have a bigger effect at this stage than public-service ad campaigns. The one exception to that may be prominent figures from groups that still have higher vaccine skepticism, like Republican politicians and Black community leaders.

3. Learning that not being vaccinated will prevent people from doing some things.

There is now a roiling debate over vaccine mandates , with some hospitals, colleges, cruise-ship companies and others implementing them — and some state legislators trying to ban mandates. The Kaiser poll suggests that these requirements can influence a meaningful number of skeptics to get shots, sometimes just for logistical reasons.

“Hearing that the travel quarantine restrictions would be lifted for those people that are vaccinated was a major reason for my change of thought.” — a 43-year-old Black Democratic man in Virginia “To see events or visit some restaurants, it was easier to be vaccinated.” — a 39-year-old white independent man in New Jersey “Bahamas trip required a COVID shot.” — a 43-year-old Hispanic independent man in Pennsylvania

More on the virus:

Indonesia is the pandemic’s new epicenter , with the highest count of new infections.

After Los Angeles County reinstated indoor mask requirements, the sheriff said the rules were “not backed by science” and refused to enforce them.

The American tennis star Coco Gauff tested positive and will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics.

THE LATEST NEWS

Remote voting in Congress has become a personal and political convenience for House members of both parties.

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Flooding in Western Europe killed at least 183 people, with hundreds still missing . “The German language has no words, I think, for the devastation,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Burned-out landscapes and dwindling water supplies are threatening Napa Valley, the heart of America’s wine industry .

Here’s the latest on the extreme heat and wildfires in the West.

Other Big Stories

A Japanese court sentenced two Americans to prison for helping the former Nissan leader Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan in a box.

Although the Me Too movement heightened awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault, the struggle to prosecute cases has endured.

Mat George, co-host of the podcast “She Rates Dogs,” died after a hit-and-run in Los Angeles. He was 26 .

The green economy is shaping up to be filled with grueling work schedules, few unions, middling wages and limited benefits, The Times’s Noam Scheiber reports .

Several governments use a cyberespionage tool to target rights activists, dissidents and journalists, leaked data suggests.

Tadej Pogacar, a 22-year-old cycling phenom from Slovenia, won his second straight Tour de France .

Bret Stephens and Gail Collins discuss big government .

MORNING READS

Into the woods: Smartphones are steering novice hikers onto trails they can’t handle .

Driven: Maureen Dowd meets Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s “weirdly normal” C.E.O.

The Games: Has the world had enough of the Olympics ?

A Times classic: Try this science-based 7-minute workout .

Quiz time: The average score on our most recent news quiz is 8.1 out of 11. See if you can do better .

Lives Lived: Gloria Richardson famously brushed aside a National Guardsman’s bayonet as she led a campaign for civil rights in Cambridge, Md. She died at 99 .

ARTS AND IDEAS

What matters in a name sign.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, five women teamed up to assign Vice President-elect Kamala Harris a name sign — the equivalent of a person’s name in American Sign Language.

The women — Ebony Gooden, Kavita Pipalia, Smita Kothari, Candace Jones and Arlene Ngalle-Paryani — are members of the “capital D Deaf community,” a term some deaf people use to indicate they embrace deafness as a cultural identity and communicate primarily through ASL.

Through social media, people submitted suggestions and put the entries to a vote. The result: A name sign that draws inspiration, among other things, from the sign for “lotus flower” — the translation of “Kamala” in Sanskrit — and the number three, highlighting Harris’s trifecta as the first Black, Indian and female vice president.

“Name signs given to political leaders are usually created by white men, but for this one we wanted to not only represent women, but diversity — Black women, Indian women,” Kothari said. Read more about it, and see videos of the signs . — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to cook.

Debate ham and pineapple pizza all you want. There’s no denying the goodness of caramelized pineapple with sausages .

What to Watch

Based on books by R.L. Stine, the “Fear Street” trilogy on Netflix offers gore and nostalgia.

“ Skipped History ,” a comedy web series, explores overlooked people and events that shaped America.

Now Time to Play

The pangram from Friday’s Spelling Bee was lengthened . Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online .

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword , and a clue: Hot tub nozzles (four letters).

If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here .

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. Ashley Wu , who has worked for Apple and New York magazine, has joined The Times as a graphics editor for newsletters. You’ll see her work in The Morning soon.

Here’s today’s print front page .

“ The Daily ” is about booster shots. On the Book Review podcast , S.A. Cosby talks about his new novel.

Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected] .

Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox .

David Leonhardt writes The Morning, The Times's main daily newsletter. Previously at The Times, he was the Washington bureau chief, the founding editor of The Upshot, an Op-Ed columnist, and the head of The 2020 Project, on the future of the Times newsroom. He won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. More about David Leonhardt

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Persuasive messaging to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions

Erin k. james.

a Yale Institute for Global Health, New Haven, CT, USA

b Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Scott E. Bokemper

c Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

d Center for the Study of American Politics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Alan S. Gerber

e Department of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Saad B. Omer

f Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA

g Yale School of Nursing, West Haven, CT, USA

Gregory A. Huber

Associated data.

Widespread vaccination remains the best option for controlling the spread of COVID-19 and ending the pandemic. Despite the considerable disruption the virus has caused to people’s lives, many people are still hesitant to receive a vaccine. Without high rates of uptake, however, the pandemic is likely to be prolonged. Here we use two survey experiments to study how persuasive messaging affects COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions. In the first experiment, we test a large number of treatment messages. One subgroup of messages draws on the idea that mass vaccination is a collective action problem and highlighting the prosocial benefit of vaccination or the reputational costs that one might incur if one chooses not to vaccinate. Another subgroup of messages built on contemporary concerns about the pandemic, like issues of restricting personal freedom or economic security. We find that persuasive messaging that invokes prosocial vaccination and social image concerns is effective at increasing intended uptake and also the willingness to persuade others and judgments of non-vaccinators. We replicate this result on a nationally representative sample of Americans and observe that prosocial messaging is robust across subgroups, including those who are most hesitant about vaccines generally. The experiments demonstrate how persuasive messaging can induce individuals to be more likely to vaccinate and also create spillover effects to persuade others to do so as well.

The first experiment in this study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov and can be found under the ID number {"type":"clinical-trial","attrs":{"text":"NCT04460703","term_id":"NCT04460703"}} NCT04460703 . This study was registered at Open Science Framework (OSF) at: https://osf.io/qu8nb/?view_only=82f06ecad77f4e54b02e8581a65047d7.

1. Introduction

The global spread of COVID-19 created an urgent need for safe and effective vaccines against the disease. However, even though several successful vaccines have become available, vaccine hesitancy in the general population has the potential to limit the efficacy of vaccines as a tool for ending the pandemic. For instance, in the United States, the public’s willingness to receive a vaccine has declined from 72 % saying they would be likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine in May 2020 to 60 % of people reporting that they would receive a vaccine as of November 2020 [ 1 ]. Given the considerable amount of skepticism about the safety and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine, it has become increasingly important to understand how public health communication can play a role in increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

Vaccination is both a self-interested and a prosocial action [ [2] , [3] , [4] , [5] , [6] , [7] , [8] , [9] ]. By getting vaccinated, people protect themselves from a disease, but they also reduce the chance that they become a vector through which the disease spreads to others. If enough people receive a vaccine, the population gains protection through herd immunity, but this also creates an incentive for an individual to not get vaccinated because they can forgo vaccination and receive protection from others who do vaccinate. Recent research on vaccination in general has demonstrated that people view vaccination as a social contract and are less willing to cooperate with those who choose not to get inoculated [ 10 ]. This work also implies that highlighting the reputational costs of choosing not to vaccinate could be an effective strategy for increasing uptake. Further, appeals to herd immunity and the prosocial aspect of vaccination have been shown to increase uptake intentions [ [11] , [12] , [13] ], but emphasizing the possibility of free riding on other’s immunity reduces the willingness to get vaccinated [ 14 ].

Focusing specifically on vaccination against COVID-19, recent studies have found that messages that explain herd immunity increase willingness to receive a vaccine [ 15 ] and reduces the time that people would wait to get vaccinated when a vaccine becomes available to them [ 16 ]. However, other work has found that prosocial appeals did not increase average COVID-19 vaccination intentions [ 17 ] and the effect of prosocial concerns was present in sparsely populated places, but absent in more densely populated ones [ 18 ]. Given the current state of evidence, it is unclear whether appealing to getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a way to protect others will increase willingness to vaccinate.

Viewing vaccination through the lens of a collective action problem suggests that in addition to increasing individuals’ intentions to receive a vaccine, effective public health messages would also increase people’s willingness to encourage those close to them to vaccinate and to hold negative judgments of those who do not vaccinate. By encouraging those close to them to vaccinate, people are both promoting compliance with social norms and increasing their own level of protection against the disease. Also, by judging those who do not vaccinate more negatively, they apply social pressure to others to promote cooperative behavior. This would be consistent with theories of cooperation, like indirect reciprocity or partner choice, that rely on free riders being punished or ostracized for their past actions to encourage prosocial outcomes [ [19] , [20] , [21] , [22] , [23] ]. Thus, effective messaging could have outsized effects on promoting vaccination if it both causes people to vaccinate themselves and to encourage those around them to do so.

We conducted two pre-registered experiments to study how different persuasive messages affect intentions to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, willingness to persuade friends and relatives to receive one, and negative judgments of people who choose not to vaccinate. In the first experiment, we tested the efficacy of a large number of messages against an untreated control condition (see Table 1 for full text of messages). A subgroup of the messages in Experiment 1 drew on this collective action framework of vaccination and emphasized who benefits from vaccination or how choosing not to vaccinate hurts one’s social image. A second subgroup drew on contemporary arguments about restrictions on liberty and economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Experiment 2, we retested the most effective messages from Experiment 1 on a nationally representative sample of American adults. By utilizing this test and re-test design, we guard against false positive results that are observed by chance among the large number of messages tested in Experiment 1. In our analysis of both experiments, we examined whether specific messages were more effective among certain subgroups of the population.

Experimental treatment messages for Experiment 1 and Experiment 2. All messages add the prose in the table to the content of the Baseline informational control. All of the messages in the table were tested in Experiment 1. The messages that are bolded were retested in Experiment 2.

Experiment 1 was fielded in early July 2020. Participants were randomly assigned to either a placebo control condition in which they read a story about the effectiveness of bird feeders or one of eleven treatment messages. The first message is a Baseline informational control condition that describes how it is important to receive a vaccine to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to others. Informational messages have been shown to be effective at increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions [ 24 ]. This message also emphasized that vaccines are safe and estimated to save millions of lives per year. The other messages add additional content to this baseline message.

The subgroup of messages that emphasized collective action varied who would benefit from vaccination or what other people might think of someone who chooses to be a free rider by not vaccinating. Focusing on who benefits from vaccination, the second message invoked Self Interest and reinforced the idea that vaccination is a self-protecting action (“Remember, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single best way to protect yourself from getting sick.”). The third message, Community Interest, instead argued that vaccination is a cooperative action to protect other people (“Stopping COVID-19 is important because it reduces the risk that members of your family and community could get sick and die.”). This message also invoked reciprocity by emphasizing the importance of every-one working together to protect others.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth messages added an invocation of an emotion, Guilt, Embarrassment, or Anger, to the Community Interest message. These messages prompted people to think about how they would feel if they chose not to get vaccinated and spread COVID-19 to someone else in the future. Emotions are thought to play a role in cooperation, either by motivating an individual to take an action because of a feeling that they experience or restraining them from taking an action because of the emotional response it would provoke in others [ [25] , [26] , [27] ]. Further, anticipated emotional states have been shown to promote various health behaviors, like vaccination [ [28] , [29] ].

The seventh and eighth messages evoked concerns about one’s reputation and social image, which influences their attractiveness as a cooperative partner to others. The seventh, a Not Bravery message, reframed the idea that being unafraid of the virus is not a brave action, but instead selfish, and that the way to demonstrate bravery is by getting vaccinated because it shows strength and concern for others (“To show strength get the vaccine so you don’t get sick and take resources from other people who need them more”). The eighth message was a Trust in Science message that highlights that scientists believe a vaccine will be an effective way of limiting the spread of COVID-19. This message suggests that those who do not get vaccinated do not understand science and signal this ignorance to others (“Not getting vaccinated will show people that you are probably the sort of person who doesn’t understand how infection spreads and who ignores or are confused about science.”).

The final three messages drew on concerns about restrictions on freedom and economic activity that were widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic. A pair of messages focused on how vaccination would allow for a restoration of Personal Freedom (“Government policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 limit our freedom of association and movement”) or Economic Freedom (“Government policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have stopped businesses from opening up”). These messages take a value that is commonly invoked in individuals’ decision to not vaccinate [ [30] , [31] ] and reframed vaccination as something that would actually restore freedoms that had been taken away. The final message, Community Economic Benefit, argues that a vaccine will help return people’s financial security and strengthen the economy This message is similar to the Community Interest messages that are described above, but instead focuses on cooperating to restore the economy (“We can all end this outbreak and strengthen the national economy by working together and getting vaccinated”).

2.1. Experiment 1 results

Panel A of Fig. 1 plots the effect of each vaccine message relative to the untreated control group on intention to vaccinate. The intention to vaccinate measure was formed by combining responses to a question about the likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine within the first 3 months that one is available with a question about getting a vaccine within the first year that one is available. Specifically, for respondents who did not answer that they were very likely to vaccinate within the first three months that a vaccine is available to them, we asked how likely they would be to vaccinate within a year. This measure coded those who are very likely in the first three months at the highest value on the scale followed by very likely within a year descending down to very unlikely within the first year. Analyzing the vaccination item separately does not substantively change the results. All outcome variables were scored 0 to 1, with higher values indicating greater willingness to endorse the pro-vaccine action or belief (Underlying regressions appear in Table S1 and unless otherwise noted, all analyses were pre-registered).

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Experiment 1. Messages that frame vaccination as a cooperative action to protect others or emphasize how non-vaccination might negatively affect one’s social image increase reported willingness to advise a friend, and judgment of non-vaccinators. Panel A displays treatment effects for the combined measure of intention to vaccinate, Panel B displays the advise a friend outcome, and Panel C displays the judging a non-vaccinator outcome. Treatment effects for both panels were estimated using OLS regression that included covariates. The effects displayed are a comparison against the placebo control baseline and are presented with 95% confidence intervals. The dashed vertical line is the effect of the Baseline informational control for each outcome.

Compared to the untreated control, the Baseline informational message was associated with modest increases in intention to vaccinate by 0.034 units (95 % CI:0.002, 0.065; p < .05). This effect represents an increase of approximately 6 % in the scale score compared to the outcome in the control condition.

By comparison, the Community Interest, Community Interest + Guilt, Embarrassment, or Anger, Not Bravery, Trust in Science and Personal Freedom messages all produce larger effects, at least qualitatively, than the Baseline informational message on the intention to vaccinate outcome. Effects for the Self-Interest, Economic Freedom, and Community Economic benefit messages were not consistently distinguishable from the untreated control group outcomes, and their effects were indistinguishable from the effects of the Baseline informational message.

The most promising messages were the Not Bravery, Community Interest, and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages. These messages were associated with effects that were statistically distinguishable from the untreated control group (Not Bravery: 0.077 units, 95 % CI: 0.035, 0.119; p < .01, Community Interest: 0.090 units, 95 % CI: 0.050, 0.129; p < .01, Community Interest + Embarrassment: 0.094 units, 95 % CI: 0.054, 0.134; p < .01) at p < .01. Moreover, their effects were always more than twice as large as the Baseline informational treatment and these differences were significant at p < .05 (two-tailed tests). The effects of the Trust in Science message and the Personal Freedom message were not statistically significant when compared to the Baseline informational message.

To put the magnitudes of the effects into context, we re-estimated our analysis after dichotomizing the intended vaccine uptake measure such that those who report they were “somewhat” or “very” likely to get the vaccine, either with three months or a year, are coded as 1 and those who do not are coded 0 (this analysis was not pre-registered). This produced a predicted rate of intended vaccination in the control group of 58.2 %. Respondents who read the Baseline informational message were 7.4 percentage points (95 % CI: 2.9 pp, 12.0 pp; p < .01) more likely to receive a vaccine. Among those assigned to the Not Bravery or Community Interest messages it was predicted to increase by 10.4 percentage points and 12.7 percentage points (Not Bravery: 95 % CI: 4.3 pp, 16.4 pp; p < .01, Community Interest: 95 % CI: 6.7 pp, 18.7 pp; p < .01) respectively, while among those assigned to the Community Interest + Embarrassment message it was predicted to increases by 15.9 percentage points (95 % CI: 10.2 pp, 21.6 pp; p < .01). This last difference was substantively large, representing a proportional increase of 27 % (0.159/0.582) compared to the control condition and a 13 % increase compared to the Baseline informational condition (0.159-0.074)/(0.582 + 0.074).

Turning to the other regarding outcomes that focused on spurring action by others, Panel B plots the effects of each vaccine message relative to the untreated control for advising a friend to receive a vaccine and Panel C plots the effects for negatively judging someone who refuses to receive one. Here, the effect of the Baseline informational intervention was modest and statistically insignificant. However, the Not Bravery, Trust in Science, Personal Freedom, Community Interest, Community Interest + Guilt, and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages had larger effects on both outcomes that were statistically distinguishable from the control outcome.

The most promising message was the Community Interest + Embarrassment message for the advise a friend outcome, which was associated with a 0.09 unit increase in the scale outcome (95 % CI: 0.049, 0.132; p < .01 two-tailed test), an effect that represents an increase of 27 % compared to the mean scale score in the control group. The effect was 0.067 units compared to the Baseline informational message (95 % CI: 0.027, 0.105; p = .001, two-tailed test). We conducted a similar exercise to the one describe above to gauge the relative magnitude of these treatment effects. For the Community Interest + Embarrassment message we estimated a 15 percentage point increase (95 % CI: 0.088, 0.209; p < .01, two tailed test,) in a binary intention to advise others to vaccinate outcome, a proportional increase of 27 % compared to the control group baseline of 53 % (0.15/0.53). This effect was also 6 percentage points larger than the effect of the baseline message (95 % CI: 0.008, 0.121; p = .03, two-tailed test).

The most promising outcome for the negative judgment of non-vaccinators was the Not Bravery message, which had an effect of 0.09 scale points (95 % CI: 0.052, 0.126; p < .01, two-tailed test) compared to the untreated control and 0.072 scale points versus the Baseline information (95 % CI: 0.037, 0.106; p < .01 Baseline message, two-tailed tests). This corresponded to a 21 % increase compared to the scale outcome in the control group (0.09/0.43). These are both substantively and statistically meaningful effects. The Community Interest, Community Interest + Guilt, Community Interest + Embarrassment, Trust in Science, and Personal Freedom messages all produced effects that were statistically distinguishable from the control condition.

We also investigated the robustness of these findings to sample restrictions and whether certain subgroups were more responsive to specific treatment messages (reported in Figures S2-S12 ). Results were generally robust to restricting the sample to those who were over the 10th percentile and under the 90th percentile for completion time. For subgroup analyses, those scoring low in liberty endorsement appeared more responsive to the Baseline treatment and to the Not Bravery message than are those who scored high in liberty endorsement. Those who report being less likely to take risks appeared robustly more responsive to the Not Bravery message than those who were high in risk taking. Those who were high in risk taking appear more responsive to the Personal Freedom message with regard to their own behavioral intentions. Certain groups appeared generically easier to persuade (Democrats rather than Republicans, an important divide that has emerged during the pandemic [ 32 ], and Women rather than Men), but there were no clear differences in which treatments appeared most effective across these groups. We explored the robustness of these subgroup differences in Experiment 2.

Taken together, the most successful messages in Experiment 1 were those that were theoretically motivated by viewing vaccination as a collective action problem. Consistent with previous work that demonstrates that prosocial appeals are effective in promoting vaccination, the Community Interest message and Community Interest + Guilt, Embarrassment, or Anger messages increased COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions. Moving beyond who benefits from vaccination, the Not Bravery and Trust in Science messages that invoked concerns about one’s social image if they choose not to vaccinate also increased uptake intentions. All of the collective action oriented messages increased intentions to advise a friend to vaccinate and negative judgments of those who do not, potentially creating spillover effects that induce others to vaccinate. In addition to this subgroup of messages, we found that reframing vaccination as a way to restore freedom was also effective, though the other messages motivated by contemporary debates about the pandemic were generally no more effective than the Baseline condition.

2.2. Experiment 2 results

Experiment 2 tested the subset of the best performing messages from Experiment 1 on a nationally representative sample in September 2020. Notably, in the several month period between Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, the public had grown increasingly skeptical of a potential COVID-19 vaccine [ 1 ]. Panel A of Fig. 2 plots the effect of each vaccine message, relative to the untreated control group, on the same measure of intention to vaccinate used in Experiment 1. (The model specifications shown in the figure were from our pre-registered specifications, underlying regression appear in Table S2.). Given that we observed the messages from Experiment 1 were effective at increasing vaccine uptake, we pre-registered directional hypotheses for Experiment 2 that tested whether the effects could be replicated on a nationally representative sample. Accordingly, we report one-tailed hypothesis tests and 90 % confidence intervals in the results presented below. Results largely confirmed the patterns observed in Experiment 1.

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Experiment 2. The Not Bravery, Community Interest, and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages increase both intentions to vaccinate and other-regarding outcomes. Panel A displays treatment effects for intentions to vaccinate, Panel B displays the advise a friend, and Panel C displays the judging a non-vaccinator outcomes. Treatment effects for both panels were estimated using OLS regression that included covariates. The effects displayed are a comparison against the placebo control baseline and are presented with 90 % confidence intervals. The dashed vertical line is the effect of the Baseline informational control for each outcome.

The Baseline informational treatment was associated with a modest increase, 0.029 units, in intention to vaccinate (90 % CI: 0.011, 0.046; p < .01, one-tailed test). This effect was a 6 % increase of the observed scale outcome in the untreated control group.

The Community Interest and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages were associated with qualitatively larger effects on intended vaccine uptake. These messages were associated with increases of 0.045 units (90 % CI: 0.021, 0.070; p < .01, one-tailed test) and 0.043 units (90 % CI: 0.019, 0.067; p < .01, one-tailed test), respectively. As with Experiment 1, we recoded those who stated they were “somewhat” or “very” likely to receive the vaccine as 1 and those who did not report that they were likely to receive it as 0 (this analysis was not pre-registered: for consistency we report 90 % confidence intervals). This binary measure produced a predicted rate of intended vaccination in the control group of 51.4 %. Intended uptake was 3.3 percentage points higher in the Baseline information condition (90 % CI: 0.5 pp, 6.0 pp; p < .05, one-tailed test), 3.5 percentage points higher in the Community Interest + Embarrassment condition (90 % CI: −0.1 pp, 7.0 pp; p = .06, one-tailed test), and 5 percentage points higher in the Community Interest condition (90 % CI: 1.3 pp, 0.8.7 pp; p < .05, one-tailed test). The latter effect was proportionally large—10 % compared to the baseline predict rate in the control group (0.050/0.514).

On average, the Not Bravery, Trust in Science, and Personal Freedom messages were approximately as effective as the informational content to which they were added in increasing intention to vaccinate, which differs from Experiment 1 where they modestly outperformed the Baseline informational condition.

Turning to other regarding outcomes, Panel B of Fig. 2 plots effects for advice given to others and Panel C does so for negative judgments of non-vaccinators. The Baseline informational treatment was again associated with statistically significant increases in each outcome. For these outcomes, the Not Bravery, Trust in Science, and both Community Interest messages produced effects that were at least descriptively larger than the Baseline treatment. The effects for the Personal Freedom message were smaller than the Baseline informational treatment, a result that again diverged from Experiment 1.

In terms of advising others to vaccinate, the most effective message was the Community Interest + Embarrassment message, which was also the most effective message in Experiment 1. This effect was 0.07 scale points (90 % CI: 0.043, 0.095; p < .01, one-tailed test), an increase of 14 % compared to the control group average scale score of 0.51 (0.07/0.51). This effect was also statistically distinguishable from the effect of the Baseline informational treatment (difference = 0.045; 90 % CI: 0.020, 0.069; p < .01, one-tailed test). When dichotomizing the advise a friend outcome to better describe the magnitude of the effect, we estimated that the Community interest + Embarrassment message was associated with a 10 percentage point increase (90 % CI: 0.064, 0.140; p < .01, one-tailed test) in intention to advise others to vaccinate compared to the control group, a proportional increase of 27 % compared to the control group baseline of 38 % (0.10/0.38). This effect was approximately 6 points larger than the effect of the Baseline message (90 % CI: 0.026, 0.099; p < .01, one-tailed test).

In terms of judging non-vaccinators, the largest effects were for the Not Bravery and Trust in Science messages, with each effect also statistically distinguishable from the Baseline message. Notably, in this sample the Trust in Science message had large effects on beliefs and actions toward others but appeared ineffective in changing an individual’s own intended vaccination behavior. The Not Bravery message was also the most effective message in this regard in Experiment 1.

We examined three pre-registered differences in subgroup treatment effects to test the patterns observed in Experiment 1. First, confirming Experiment 1 we found that those who did not endorse liberty values were more responsive to the Not Bravery message (compared to the baseline message) than those who endorsed liberty values for the three outcome measures. Second, we did not confirm either preregistered prediction with regard to differences in treatment effects by risk taking that were observed in Experiment 1.

The remaining subgroup comparisons were not pre-registered. Beginning with gender, in comparison to the untreated control, women responded more to the Trust in Science and Community Interest + Embarrassment message than did men (all five outcomes), while men responded more to the Not Bravery and Community Interest (without embarrassment) messages. Democrats were more responsive than Republicans across the board to the different treatment messages, while Republicans appeared to react only to the Community Interest and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages (magnitudes similar to those of Democrats). We observed a similar pattern for differences by baseline vaccine confidence, measured pre-treatment with a multi-item battery of questions [ 33 ]. Those high in vaccine confidence responded to all messages, while those low in confidence responded reliably only to the Community Interest messages.

3. Discussion

Overall, the results point both to a set of effective messages and the potential efficacy of specific messages for some particular subgroups. On average, a simple informational intervention is effective, but it is even more effective to add language framing vaccine uptake as protecting others and as a cooperative action. Not only does emphasizing that vaccination is a prosocial action increase uptake, but it also increases people’s willingness to pressure others to do so, both by direct persuasion and negative judgment of non-vaccinators. The latter social pressure effects may be enhanced by highlighting how embarrassing it would be to infect someone else after failing to vaccinate. The Not Bravery and Trust in Science messages had substantial effects on other regarding outcomes and for some subgroups, but do not appear to be as effective as the Community Interest messages in promoting own vaccination behavior. Importantly, in distinct samples fielded several months apart, the Community Interest, Community Interest + Embarrassment, and the Not Bravery messages produced substantively meaningful increases for all outcomes measures relative to the untreated control, and in some instances did so in comparison to the Baseline information condition.

Our findings are consistent with the idea that vaccination is often treated as a social contract in which people are expected to vaccinate and those who do not are sanctioned [ 10 ]. In addition to messages emphasizing the prosocial element of vaccination, we observed that messages that invoked reputational concerns were successful at altering judgment of those who would free ride on the contributions of others. This work could also help explain why social norm effects appear to overwhelm the incentive to free ride when vaccination rates are higher [ [34] , [35] ]. That is, messages that increased intentions to vaccinate also increased the moralization of non-vaccinators suggesting that they are fundamentally linked to one another. These messages will need to be adapted in specific cultural contexts with relevant partners, such as community leaders.

The robust effect of the Community Interest message advances our current understanding of whether public health messaging that deploys prosocial concerns could be effective at increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The results of both experiments presented here support prior work that demonstrated the effectiveness of communication that explains herd immunity on promoting vaccination [ [15] , [16] ]. It also suggests that a detailed explanation of herd immunity may not be necessary to induce prosocial behavior.

Beyond the theoretical contribution, the results have practical implications for vaccine communication strategies for increasing COVID-19 vaccine acceptance. We identified multiple effective messages that provide several evidence-based options to immunization programs as they develop their vaccine communication strategies. Importantly, the insights into differential effectiveness of various messages by subgroup (e.g. men vs women) could inform messaging targeted to specific groups. Understanding heterogeneous treatment effects and the mechanisms that cause differential responses to persuasive messaging strategies requires additional testing and theoretical development. We view this as a promising avenue for future work.

The experiments presented here are not without limitations. First, we measured intentions to vaccinate at a time when a vaccine was not currently available and the effectiveness and side effects of potential vaccines were not known. This also meant that we could not observe actual vaccination behavior, which is ultimately the outcome of interest. While intentions predict behavior in many contexts [ [36] , [37] ] including vaccination [ [38] , [39] , [40] ], past research examining the effect of behavioral nudges on COVID-19 vaccine uptake has produced divergent evidence when testing the effect of the same treatments in the field on behavior and in a survey experiment on a behavioral intention [ 41 ]. This observation highlights the need for field testing messages that have shown to be successful on increasing uptake intentions in survey experiments to ascertain whether they also increase vaccine uptake. It may be that field tests reveal certain messages are particularly less effective than in the survey context, or that messages are uniformly less effective. Second, given the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, attitudes about vaccines may have changed since the experiments were fielded which could also change the efficacy of the messages that we tested. Third, we cannot be sure whether, or how long, the effects we observe here persist. Finally, we only tested text-based messages, but public health messaging is delivered through many mediums, like public service announcements, videos, and images. Future work can adapt the successful messaging strategies found here and test their efficacy when delivered in alternative formats.

Efforts to vaccinate individuals against COVID-19 are currently underway in the United States and it remains important to convince the mass public of the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that the threshold for herd immunity is reached. Our experiments provide robust evidence that appealing to protecting others has effects on intentions to get vaccinated and to apply social pressure to others to do so as well.

4. Materials and methods

4.1. ethics statement.

The experiments reported here were fielded under an exemption granted by the Yale University IRB. Informed consent was obtained from participants and they were informed that they could stop the study at any time. Data was collected anonymously and contained no personally identifiable information.

4.2. Experiment 1

Participants and Procedure. Participants were recruited by the vendor Luc.id to take a survey. Of those who were recruited, 4,361 participants completed the survey. An examination of attrition during the survey reveals that attrition was balanced across groups which minimizes concerns that the treatment effects estimated in the main manuscript are affected by attrition. The survey was programmed using the survey software Qualtrics. The survey was fielded between July 3, 2020 and July 8, 2020.

Experimental Design. Participants first completed basic demographic and pre-treatment attitudinal questions and were asked about their experience with COVID-19. After this, participants read a treatment message. They were required to spend at least 20 s on the survey page that contained the message to given them an adequate amount of time to read it. We allocated 2/15 of the sample to the untreated control condition and 1/5 of the sample to the Information baseline condition due to the number of comparisons that would utilize these conditions. Each of the remaining conditions received 1/15 of the sample. The design and analysis were pre-registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (protocol ID: 2000027983).

Outcome Measures. For COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions, participants were asked “How likely are you to get a COVID-19 vaccine within the first 3 months that it is available to you?” and “How likely are you to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the first year that it is available to you?” Respondents answered this question on a five-point scale with end points of “Extremely unlikely” and “Extremely likely.” The main text describes how these items were combined for analysis. Turning to the likelihood of advising someone to vaccinate, respondents were asked “How likely are you to advise a close friend or relative to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine becomes available?” Respondents also answered this question on a five-point scale with end points of “Extremely unlikely” and “Extremely likely.” Finally, for judging someone who chooses not to vaccinate, respondents read “we would like you to think about a friend or relative who chose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available. What would you think about this person? Are they…”. This prompt was followed by four traits: trustworthy, selfish, likeable, and competent. The response options were “not at all”, “slightly”, “somewhat”, “mostly”, and “very.”

Analysis. We used OLS regression with robust Huber-White standard errors and indicators for assigned treatment to estimate treatment effects. We use robust standard errors to address the heteroscedasticity observed when estimating our primary analysis models without them. We included covariates as described in the Supplementary Materials . Comparisons across treatments are from linear combination of coefficients tests. For the subgroup analyses, we restricted the sample to the stated criteria and estimate the model specified here on the subsample. For liberty endorsement and risk taking, we determined who was high and low by splitting the sample at the mean.

4.3. Experiment 2

Participants and Procedure. Participants ( n  = 5,014) were recruited by the vendor YouGov/Polimetrix. YouGov provides subjects using a sampling procedure that is designed to match a number of Census demographics. To determine the sample size, we conducted a power analysis to detect effects that were 80 % as large as those observed in Experiment 1. The experiment was fielded between September 9, 2020 and September 22, 2020.

Experimental Design. Participants first completed basic demographic and pre-treatment attitudinal questions and were asked about their experience with COVID-19. Participants were randomly assigned to one of seven conditions: the untreated control, the Information baseline control, Community Interest, Community Interest + Anticipated Embarrassment, Not Bravery, Trust in Science, or Personal Freedom. As in Experiment 1, more participants were assigned to the untreated control condition and the Baseline information control condition, 1/5 and 3/10 of the sample respectively. The remaining five conditions each received 1/10 of the sample. Participants were required to spend at least 30 s on the survey page that had the treatment message. The design and analysis were pre-registered at Open Science Framework.

Outcome Measures. The outcome measurement was the same as described in Experiment 1 with the exception of intelligent being added to the judgment of a non-vaccinator scale.

Analysis. We used the same modeling approach described above to produce the results displayed in Fig. 2 . We included covariates as described in the Supplementary Materials . For subgroup analyses, we estimated OLS regression models with an indicator variable if a person was a member of a subgroup (e.g. high endorsement of liberty) and zero otherwise.

CRediT authorship contribution statement

Erin K. James: Conceptualization, Writing- original draft, Writing- review and editing. Scott E. Bokemper: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analyses. Alan S. Gerber: Conceptualization, Writing- review and editing. Saad B. Omer: Conceptualization, Writing- review and editing. Gregory A. Huber: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analyses, Writing- original draft, Writing- review and editing.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge support for the Tobin Center for Economic Policy at Yale University. EKJ and SBO were supported by the Yale Institute for Global Health.

SEB, ASG, and GAH received support from the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the Center for the Study of American Politics at Yale University.

Appendix A Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.10.039 .

Appendix A. Supplementary material

The following are the Supplementary data to this article:

Persuasive Essay Guide

Persuasive Essay About Covid19

Caleb S.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay About Covid19 | Examples & Tips

11 min read

Published on: Feb 22, 2023

Last updated on: Nov 22, 2023

Persuasive Essay About Covid19

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Are you looking to write a persuasive essay about the Covid-19 pandemic?

Writing a compelling and informative essay about this global crisis can be challenging. It requires researching the latest information, understanding the facts, and presenting your argument persuasively.

But don’t worry! with some guidance from experts, you’ll be able to write an effective and persuasive essay about Covid-19.

In this blog post, we’ll outline the basics of writing a persuasive essay . We’ll provide clear examples, helpful tips, and essential information for crafting your own persuasive piece on Covid-19.

Read on to get started on your essay.

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Steps to Write a Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

Here are the steps to help you write a persuasive essay on this topic, along with an example essay:

Step 1: Choose a Specific Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should clearly state your position on a specific aspect of COVID-19. It should be debatable and clear. For example:

Step 2: Research and Gather Information

Collect reliable and up-to-date information from reputable sources to support your thesis statement. This may include statistics, expert opinions, and scientific studies. For instance:

  • COVID-19 vaccination effectiveness data
  • Information on vaccine mandates in different countries
  • Expert statements from health organizations like the WHO or CDC

Step 3: Outline Your Essay

Create a clear and organized outline to structure your essay. A persuasive essay typically follows this structure:

  • Introduction
  • Background Information
  • Body Paragraphs (with supporting evidence)
  • Counterarguments (addressing opposing views)

Step 4: Write the Introduction

In the introduction, grab your reader's attention and present your thesis statement. For example:

Step 5: Provide Background Information

Offer context and background information to help your readers understand the issue better. For instance:

Step 6: Develop Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should present a single point or piece of evidence that supports your thesis statement. Use clear topic sentences, evidence, and analysis. Here's an example:

Step 7: Address Counterarguments

Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and refute them with strong counterarguments. This demonstrates that you've considered different perspectives. For example:

Step 8: Write the Conclusion

Summarize your main points and restate your thesis statement in the conclusion. End with a strong call to action or thought-provoking statement. For instance:

Step 9: Revise and Proofread

Edit your essay for clarity, coherence, grammar, and spelling errors. Ensure that your argument flows logically.

Step 10: Cite Your Sources

Include proper citations and a bibliography page to give credit to your sources.

Remember to adjust your approach and arguments based on your target audience and the specific angle you want to take in your persuasive essay about COVID-19.

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Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid19

When writing a persuasive essay about the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to consider how you want to present your argument. To help you get started, here are some example essays for you to read:

Check out some more PDF examples below:

Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Pandemic

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Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Vaccine

Covid19 vaccines are one of the ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but they have been a source of controversy. Different sides argue about the benefits or dangers of the new vaccines. Whatever your point of view is, writing a persuasive essay about it is a good way of organizing your thoughts and persuading others.

A persuasive essay about the Covid-19 vaccine could consider the benefits of getting vaccinated as well as the potential side effects.

Below are some examples of persuasive essays on getting vaccinated for Covid-19.

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Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Integration

Covid19 has drastically changed the way people interact in schools, markets, and workplaces. In short, it has affected all aspects of life. However, people have started to learn to live with Covid19.

Writing a persuasive essay about it shouldn't be stressful. Read the sample essay below to get idea for your own essay about Covid19 integration.

Persuasive Essay About Working From Home During Covid19

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Examples of Argumentative Essay About Covid 19

Covid-19 has been an ever-evolving issue, with new developments and discoveries being made on a daily basis.

Writing an argumentative essay about such an issue is both interesting and challenging. It allows you to evaluate different aspects of the pandemic, as well as consider potential solutions.

Here are some examples of argumentative essays on Covid19.

Argumentative Essay About Covid19 Sample

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Examples of Persuasive Speeches About Covid-19

Do you need to prepare a speech about Covid19 and need examples? We have them for you!

Persuasive speeches about Covid-19 can provide the audience with valuable insights on how to best handle the pandemic. They can be used to advocate for specific changes in policies or simply raise awareness about the virus.

Check out some examples of persuasive speeches on Covid-19:

Persuasive Speech About Covid-19 Example

Persuasive Speech About Vaccine For Covid-19

You can also read persuasive essay examples on other topics to master your persuasive techniques!

Tips to Write a Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

Writing a persuasive essay about COVID-19 requires a thoughtful approach to present your arguments effectively. 

Here are some tips to help you craft a compelling persuasive essay on this topic:

Choose a Specific Angle

Start by narrowing down your focus. COVID-19 is a broad topic, so selecting a specific aspect or issue related to it will make your essay more persuasive and manageable. For example, you could focus on vaccination, public health measures, the economic impact, or misinformation.

Provide Credible Sources 

Support your arguments with credible sources such as scientific studies, government reports, and reputable news outlets. Reliable sources enhance the credibility of your essay.

Use Persuasive Language

Employ persuasive techniques, such as ethos (establishing credibility), pathos (appealing to emotions), and logos (using logic and evidence). Use vivid examples and anecdotes to make your points relatable.

Organize Your Essay

Structure your essay involves creating a persuasive essay outline and establishing a logical flow from one point to the next. Each paragraph should focus on a single point, and transitions between paragraphs should be smooth and logical.

Emphasize Benefits

Highlight the benefits of your proposed actions or viewpoints. Explain how your suggestions can improve public health, safety, or well-being. Make it clear why your audience should support your position.

Use Visuals -H3

Incorporate graphs, charts, and statistics when applicable. Visual aids can reinforce your arguments and make complex data more accessible to your readers.

Call to Action

End your essay with a strong call to action. Encourage your readers to take a specific step or consider your viewpoint. Make it clear what you want them to do or think after reading your essay.

Revise and Edit

Proofread your essay for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Make sure your arguments are well-structured and that your writing flows smoothly.

Seek Feedback 

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Common Topics for a Persuasive Essay on COVID-19 

Here are some persuasive essay topics on COVID-19:

  • The Importance of Vaccination Mandates for COVID-19 Control
  • Balancing Public Health and Personal Freedom During a Pandemic
  • The Economic Impact of Lockdowns vs. Public Health Benefits
  • The Role of Misinformation in Fueling Vaccine Hesitancy
  • Remote Learning vs. In-Person Education: What's Best for Students?
  • The Ethics of Vaccine Distribution: Prioritizing Vulnerable Populations
  • The Mental Health Crisis Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • The Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on Healthcare Systems
  • Global Cooperation vs. Vaccine Nationalism in Fighting the Pandemic
  • The Future of Telemedicine: Expanding Healthcare Access Post-COVID-19

In search of more inspiring topics for your next persuasive essay? Our persuasive essay topics blog has plenty of ideas!

To sum it up,

You have read good sample essays and got some helpful tips. You now have the tools you needed to write a persuasive essay about Covid-19. So don't let the doubts stop you, start writing!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any ethical considerations when writing a persuasive essay about covid-19.

Yes, there are ethical considerations when writing a persuasive essay about COVID-19. It's essential to ensure the information is accurate, not contribute to misinformation, and be sensitive to the pandemic's impact on individuals and communities. Additionally, respecting diverse viewpoints and emphasizing public health benefits can promote ethical communication.

What impact does COVID-19 have on society?

The impact of COVID-19 on society is far-reaching. It has led to job and economic losses, an increase in stress and mental health disorders, and changes in education systems. It has also had a negative effect on social interactions, as people have been asked to limit their contact with others.

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Mandatory vaccinations: Three reasons for and against

  • Published 5 December 2021
  • Coronavirus

Vaccines administered in Italy

Nearly two years since Chinese doctors first observed mysterious new cases of pneumonia, Covid-19 is still with us. On top of that, what has been described as the most worrying variant yet has emerged. Could mandatory vaccinations be a way out?

Covid vaccinations are already a requirement for public life in many parts of the world.

If you are a French doctor, a New Zealand teacher or a Canadian government employee, getting your shots is essential to go to work. Indonesia can deny benefits to people who refuse jabs. Greece is making them compulsory for the over-60s.

Austria is set to go further still, with a plan to introduce mandatory vaccinations for all by February.

This would not mean Austrians being forcibly injected. There will be medical and religious exemptions. But the bulk of the remaining unvaccinated population face fines for not getting their shots.

With Germany planning a similar move it is not a debate that is going away. I spoke to public health and other experts to get a sense of what's at stake.

FOR: Vaccines save lives

There's a very simple argument in favour of mandating Covid-19 vaccinations. By getting vaccinated you reduce your risk of serious illness. Less serious illnesses mean fewer deaths, and less pressure on hospitals.

Historically, immunisation campaigns have seen huge success, eradicating smallpox and drastically reducing mortality levels in diseases such as polio and measles.

"We have really good examples that just show a direct causal relationship between requirements, getting very high vaccination rates, and protecting not just individuals but protecting communities," says Jason Schwartz, an associate professor in the History of Medicine at Yale University.

"Vaccines work, they absolutely work, we're got a large body of evidence to show that."

  • Why mandatory vaccination is nothing new

Mandates softer than the one proposed by Austria have achieved their goal of raising vaccination levels. France's pass sanitaire , required to access restaurants and other public spaces, is credited with boosting rates to the extent the government hopes it can avoid compulsory vaccinations.

AGAINST: There will be resistance

Here in London, in July anti-lockdown demonstrators took to the streets to demonstrate against a lockdown that had been lifted just hours earlier.

The point is, whatever a government does, it will face opposition. Covid restrictions in particular have drawn protests around the world and mandatory vaccinations are a step beyond, say, a mask mandate.

"When it comes to vaccines, people do think very differently," says Vageesh Jain, a public health doctor at the Institute for Global Health at University College London.

"Anything that's administered to them in their body, it's not going to be thought of in the same way, even though academics and others may think theoretically it's just a restriction, people do have this kind of emotive response."

'This is a war': A protester holds up a needle sign in Melbourne, Australia

While there will always be some who will never be persuaded to get vaccinated, it is possible to be sceptical about vaccinations without being an anti-vaxxer.

An Austrian study distinguished between the 14.5% of the country's 9m population who were unprepared to get vaccinated and the 9% who were simply hesitant.

Governments must weigh whether the benefits outweigh the backlash. But as Cathleen Powell, a law professor at the University of Cape Town, argues, there is a legal case to be made.

"The right to bodily integrity as a person who doesn't want to be vaccinated, who wants to make his or her own choices about what medical treatment to get, comes up directly against the rights of other people, not to be infected with potentially fatal diseases," she says.

FOR: We've exhausted other options...

Covid has been with us for some time, but then so have vaccines.

In Europe at least, the momentum behind mandates reflects a frustration that after months of vaccinations and widespread availability there remain significant unvaccinated populations.

There's a stark difference in vaccination rates across the continent from west to east.

Vaccine rates across Europe

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said it was now time to think about mandatory vaccinations, although she stressed individual governments would decide.

"We have the vaccines, the life-saving vaccines, but they are not being used adequately everywhere," she said.

AGAINST: ...or maybe not just yet

While there is a strong health argument in favour of mandatory vaccinations, it is not the only way to boost levels.

"What is quite noticeable in the past is how politicians do like the idea of mandatory vaccination because it seems to give a quick answer to the problem," says Samantha Vanderslott, a social sciences researcher at the Oxford Vaccine Group.

"I wouldn't want government to neglect other things that need to be done to make sure that people really have access to vaccines."

Austria won't be making vaccines mandatory until February and is still using other means. "For those who are afraid, who have no trust, for those whose assessment of risk is low - for them it is important that they are listened to and that their concerns are taken seriously," Barbara Juen, a health psychologist at the University of Innsbruck, told national broadcaster ORF.

In South Africa, 24% of the population is vaccinated, less than half the European average but considerably higher than the 7% average recorded across the African continent. There's no shortage of jabs and low take-up has been blamed in part on misinformation.

  • South Africa battles Omicron fear and jab myths

The government has floated making vaccines compulsory in some circumstances, but the number of vaccines administered has risen rapidly since the discovery of the Omicron variant. It's not just governments that provide nudges.

FOR: End the cycle of lockdowns

Compulsory vaccinations are not the only form of mandate. Most governments have imposed some form of restrictions, from Covid passes to travel bans, that carry their own costs.

On top of the lives saved, a blanket vaccine mandate could spell the end of lockdowns.

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Experts answer your questions about the Omicron variant

"It's not just about having your liberty changed... it's about economic damage and the mental health damage the physical health damage," says Alberto Giubilini, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He favours mandates for those most vulnerable to coronavirus.

"There is no reason to impose the huge, huge costs of lockdowns on people when you have another measure available."

AGAINST: It could prove counterproductive

Some have more long-term concerns, such as whether a successful programme could build distrust of future campaigns.

"Mandatory schemes during a crisis will be counterproductive," Dr Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist who advises the WHO on pandemic recovery, told al-Jazeera.

"When people have what we call conspiracy theories or they have misbeliefs or misunderstandings, [such schemes] will only strengthen their opinions."

Vanderslott points to the political climate: "We have witnessed, especially in Europe, parties tapping into the vaccine opposition and knowing that that might be a way to get votes from a certain section of the population," she says.

"We could see more parties, and they tend to be on the right, putting out that kind of message in their political campaign and saying that they want to remove measures for mandatory vaccination. That's a fear and then once that happens, we don't have the option anymore to use that as a policy measure."

Related Topics

  • Coronavirus lockdown measures
  • Coronavirus vaccines

More on this story

First data points to Omicron re-infection risk

  • Published 3 December 2021

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  • Published 22 February 2022

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Scientific arguments to use when talking to covid-19 vaccine sceptics.

COVID-19 vaccine

Photo: Sam Moqadam / Unsplash

UOC researchers have formulated a 10-point approach to be used to persuade vaccine sceptics Accurate, verifiable, context-embedded information and putting people at ease regarding the risks of mass inoculation are key to motivating vaccine uptake Since the vaccination campaign began, deaths in nursing homes have plummeted from over 700 a week in January and February to just two a week in March

Recent reports on certain COVID-19 vaccines , coupled with the decision by some states and authorities to restrict their use within certain age groups, have prompted mistrust , notably decelerating the rhythm of vaccination.

According to the most recent CIS survey, some 6.5% of Spanish society will refuse the vaccine when their turn comes around, and 5% are still hesitant or have not yet decided what they will do. This percentage has also increased following recent reports. 

After reports from the European Medicines Agency on rare cases of blood clots among recipients of one of the vaccines, the number of people failing to turn up for their vaccination appointments or directly refusing the vaccine, explicitly motivated by the issues raised and the potential associated risks, has multiplied. In the Community of Madrid, to give just one example, figures show that the number of people refusing to be vaccinated jumped from 3% in late March to over 60% , owing to recent reports and to decisions made in mid April regarding the administration of the vaccine in some age groups. 

"Information mismanagement and decisions based on unscientific, anti-statistical criteria have dealt a heavy blow to vaccine confidence. Caution is a fundamental aspect and we need to remain alert and investigate each case, but we also have to be aware that all drugs have secondary effects and that these vaccines are no different from the thousands of other drugs that we have taken before and that we take every day", says Salvador Macip i Maresma, doctor and lecturer at the UOC Faculty of Health Sciences , Head of the Mechanisms of Cancer and Ageing Laboratory at Leicester University and science writer, who considers that the issue has been exaggerated.

Arguments of anti-vaxxers

The following are some of the arguments based on individual liberties , secondary effects or risk, used by people to turn down the vaccine or raise doubts about the campaign. "While getting vaccinated or not is an individual issue, it is also a community one, as not getting vaccinated affects society and those around us, so it is partly a civic matter ", says Macip.

In this regard, Manuel Armayones, psychologist, lecturer in Psychology and Education Science, and researcher with the UOC eHealth Center , points out that agreeing to get the vaccine is an altruistic move, benefiting not only oneself but also wider society . "By getting vaccinated, we are contributing to building a safer society, one that cares for the wellbeing of all citizens , including its most fragile and vulnerable members, such as old people, and people who, for whatsoever reason, cannot be vaccinated", says Armayones.

Taking the information in context, we see that among vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, who are more prone to health problems and complications, deaths in nursing homes fell from 700 a week in January and February, to just two a week in March, according to IMSERSO records , a drop that can be attributed to mass vaccination in nursing homes over the first few months of the year. 

Another misgiving of anti-vaxxers is the speed with which the vaccines have been developed, overlooking the massive financial and professional investment made over the past year. 

"Europe is using very innovative vaccines , but that does not mean that they are new or that they were invented last year. RNA vaccines were first put forward 20 or 30 years ago and a lot of research has gone into developing them since then. What's more, clinical trials were already underway before the pandemic hit , but the results have been expedited because of the pandemic and the huge investment that has been put into them," says Macip. 

Increased motivation

Another of the fundamental aspects towards gaining social acceptance and massive COVID-19 vaccination is human behaviour. In other words, we need to create an environment that favours our goal. For this to be possible, three essential factors need to concur, i.e. people must be able to receive the vaccine , they must be motivated to do so and they must receive a "signal" to do so . 

"We have the capacity to be vaccinated, because everybody will be offered vaccination free of charge and because, as a group, we are fortunate to have skilled professionals and a healthcare system that provides the time and place in which to do it. On the other hand, the third component required for vaccination to take place, i.e. the signal, is transmitted to each person individually, by means of a call or message. If this is not possible for whatsoever reason, each Autonomous Community is equipped with the means to let everybody to know when they are due for vaccination", says Armayones.

Armayones also agrees with other investigators around the world that the main challenge to mass vaccination is motivating people , particularly right now, when we are being bombarded with disinformation in the media and particularly social media. He adds that, that in order for the message to be effective, it must be easily understood and adapted to each social group , and that people's doubts must be listened to and clear answers offered in response. Another strategy for increasing motivation is to recruit influential persons as role models, to persuade people who may still be hesitant by their example. 

In this way, information must be used in a balanced manner, using verifiable facts to help people understand the enormous benefits of COVID-19 vaccines compared to the risks of failure to take action. "Unfortunately, there will always be a percentage of sceptics who won't listen to reason, but if we provide scientifically validated data in a clear, graphic manner, and establish reliable channels of communication , via social media and platforms, this percentage will be minimal and will not be an issue. However, if the percentage increases, the social risk is far more serious," says Macip. 

Keys to overcoming doubts 

In this regard, the best tools for winning over vaccine sceptics and other people with qualms about possible risks are based on transparency of information and a positive focus on the current vaccination situation and the benefits of herd immunity to society. 

"We need to highlight the positive aspects of vaccination compared to the negative effects of not being vaccinated, basically the high death rate and the null possibilities of economic and social recovery , when vaccination is part of the solution. The fact is that vaccination offers benefits not only to the recipient as an individual, but also to society as a whole", says Armayones, who suggests looking at the flip side as a bleak alternative: what would happen if scientists had not developed vaccines against the pandemic? How much longer would society have been able to hold out without a much harder global crash than the one we are already living through, particularly in certain sectors?

Likewise, we have to emphasize the importance of accurate, verifiable information, easily understood by the general public, to explain the data in context, instead of extraordinary occurrences, such as the rare incidence of blood clots when certain therapies are used, but also using real figures, such as the percentage of people do get blood clots, compared to the adverse effects of much more commonly-used drugs or the number of people that the vaccine is saving from dying of SARS-CoV-2.

"In the field of public health, we need to explain the benefits that society as a whole will be seeing thanks to increased vaccination and herd immunity, such as the dramatic reduction in deaths in nursing homes since the vaccine campaign was rolled out, or the fact that a higher level of immunization among the population will allow us to set and meet goals in regard to gradually recovering activities we miss so badly, in relation to work, culture and leisure . By seeding hope among the population and highlighting the huge collective effort involved in the vaccination campaign, most people will accept it as working towards a common goal, " he adds. 

Thus, the dual combination of transparency and mass vaccination will prove that the vaccines are working and get most people to see how important they are. " Once we have the information, the example of the real effect of the vaccine in society will be more important , as people see the situation improving. Thus, little by little, we will gain the trust of more people and the number of sceptics will drop ", says Macip.

Ten points to use when talking to anti-vaxxers

argumentative essay topics vaccines

UOC experts

Salvador macip i maresma.

Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Expert in: Cellular and molecular basis of cancer, ageing, age-related diseases, senescence, bioethics, scientific dissemination.

Knowledge area: Cancer and ageing.

Manuel Armayones Ruiz

Lecturer in the Psychology and Education Sciences Department Researcher of the eHealth Center

Expert in: E-health; the Internet and health; e-patients; health in the future; the psychological impact of ICT; patient social networks; addiction; the Internet and new technologies; health and robotics; rare diseases and the Internet; online psychological intervention strategies; rare diseases and ICT.

Knowledge area: eHealth, eSalut, health and ICTs.

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