The coronavirus vaccination program has clearly lost some momentum in this country. How can a vaccination campaign nevertheless succeed? This is the subject of a study conducted by ZU in international collaboration with the University of Mannheim (Martin Sievert) and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (Prof. Dr. Sebastian Jilke, a ZU alumnus). A key success factor proved to be whether local politicians and administrators are more or less proactive about approaching citizens.
“In Germany and other European countries, a debate has been ongoing since the beginning of the summer about the declining vaccine uptake and increasing no-shows at vaccination appointments. Against this background, various measures are being discussed, including incentives, sanctions, and mandatory vaccination,” says Dr. Florian Keppeler from the Chair of Public Management & Public Policy at ZU, explaining the background to the study. “However, from our point of view, gentler measures such as targeted incentives based on a behavioral-science approach may also help to increase the uptake of vaccines.”
The study was conducted in collaboration with the city of Bad Nauheim and the local clinics Kerckhoff-Klinik and Gesundheitszentrum Wetterau. An official letter, signed jointly by the mayor and the medical directors, asked all city residents aged eighteen or older (about 27,000 people) to get vaccinated and pointed out the benefits of doing so. One half of the addressees received a generally worded letter, the other half a letter inviting them to attend “your personal vaccination appointment”. Among the members of the second group, who were personally addressed, this resulted in a 39 percent increase in their willingness to be vaccinated. Extrapolated to the entire population of Germany, the authors of the study calculated that such an approach could lead to up to 2.8 million additional unvaccinated people agreeing to be vaccinated.
“The findings of the present study illustrate that vaccine acceptance increases when the politicians and administrators proactively approach the population,” Keppeler concludes. He believes that direct contact with citizens is especially promising, as is the involvement of individuals “who generally enjoy a good reputation and are trusted by the local community, such as the mayor and the directors of the local hospital in this case”. When it comes to ensuring access to information and vaccination appointments, he says it is also important to communicate in a way that is appropriate for the target group, and to “keep it as simple as possible” in the first place. Overall, the study’s authors consider the effort and costs to be comparatively low in relation to the potential benefits, particularly due to the higher vaccination rate.
The full study can be downloaded here zu.de/pmpp-downloads