March 04, 2022

Mandate Minute Week 15

BY Dee Pekruhn

This Week’s Highlights:

Volume Twenty-Six: Air Date 2.28.22. “From Pandemic to Endemic”

Do you all remember our Mandate Minute on Valentines’ Day, about the love affair with mask mandates coming to an end ?… well..

Not that long ago, we shared  that NYC was the first to issue vaccine mandates for indoor settings, and to require a statewide vaccine passport APP. Now, as the world shifts from pandemic to endemic management, NYC is once again among the firsts – to roll back masking and vaccine mandates. Effective March 7, the proposed rollback will take

effect, and the “Key2NYC” program will be decommissioned. The final decision will be made on Friday, contingent on the city and state’s COVID stats. And NYC isn’t the only place this is happening in the US.

Also on March 7, Illinois is lifting its indoor mask mandate, and Chicago will end its proof of vaccination mandates. These localities will join the ranks of LA County, Connecticut, DC and Massachusetts who have already lifted mask mandates or vaccine mandates or both.

So March 7 is the day to buy that lotto ticket, because Rhode Island announced it is transitioning to an endemic management plan specifically related to its testing and vaccination centers and protocols. To ensure the people at the highest risk for COVID have access to testing, the state-run testing sites will be focused on people who are symptomatic or are close contacts of people who are; everyone else will need to see testing at other venues. Similarly for vaccines, the state is launching a faith-based vaccination effort, targeting faith communities as locations for vaccination sites in areas where vaccination rates are lower. The state will shift away from the larger, centralized vaccination sites, as the state feels there is now a reduced need for mass vaccination centers.

While it may seem that the “END” in Endemic means the end to the now-normal COVID prevention methods, remember two things: we will still need to practice COVID protection in health care settings, and as individuals, we can still make the choice to mask up and vaccinate.

Volume Twenty-Seven: Air Date 3.2.22. “New Harvard Study on Vaccine Hesitancy”

The question public health experts keep trying to answer is “what can we do to help people who are not vaccinated get vaccinated?” A new study by researchers at the Harvard Business School and Bocconi University in Milan identified the messages most likely to increase people’s willingness to get the vaccination, receive booster shots, or have their children vaccinated.

The researchers experimented with four messages to see how they would move people’s intentions then and their actual behavior six months later:

  1. If you get vaccinated, you could avoid getting infected
  2. If you get vaccinated, you could avoid passing the virus to others
  3. If you get vaccinated, it can help protect the health of people in your country
  4. f you get vaccinated, it can help a return to economic activity and reduce unemployment

A control group received no messages.

The altruistic messages — Protecting Others or Health or the Economy — had a more meaningful impact on people’s intentions immediately afterward than self-protection. And, the same pattern bore out six months later in behavior. The researchers argued that, because this line of questioning reflected people’s actual decisions, not only their intentions, it should be less susceptible people saying what they think they are supposed to say.

The authors summarized their findings by saying that the most striking result is that informational treatments affected not only vaccination intentions expressed but also actual vaccination rates six months later. The altruistic messages even increased vaccination among individuals who had initially expressed anti-vax attitudes.

Another thing from the study that bears further exploration is that among those who were least likely to change their minds were the people who are generally more risk averse. The study’s authors speculated that “these individuals may be more concerned about possible negative side effects of vaccination than about the risk of getting Covid-19.” They are concerned with near term risks rather than longer term possibilities.

That seems to be true of some parent who have misperceptions about the relative risks of vaccination versus contracting Covid. For example, they might be aware that the vaccines carry a small risk of heart inflammation but might not be aware that Covid-19 itself brings a much higher risk of the same condition. Figuring out ways to better communicate the comparative risks of vaccination versus infections is an area worth exploring.