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COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

Context and Importance of the Project 

Full population immunization is a major global public health goal for preventing and stopping the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Due to the spread of misinformation surrounding the current pandemic, vaccination against COVID-19 is perceived as unsafe and unnecessary by a growing number of individuals around the world. Vaccine hesitancy, which refers to the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services, is, therefore, one of the greatest challenges facing the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Promoting the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines requires a deeper understanding of psychological characteristics that distinguish vaccine hesitant individuals from those who are receptive to vaccines. Therefore, it is essential to develop effective communication strategies based on specific behaviors and concerns. Social media is an attractive space for communicating and sharing educational content about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and potentially increasing vaccination coverage. In particular, the use of short and animated story-based (SAS) videos, which have previously shown to be effective at influencing various health behaviors, is a promising digital health communication strategy that can engage global audiences in evidence-based health promotion and be rapidly distributed on various social media platforms. 

End the pandemic. Vaccines work.

Written and directed by Maya Adam MD, Faculty Lead for the Global Child Health Media Initiative, Stanford Medicine.


We propose conducting an online randomized controlled experiment with post-trial access to treatment. in order to: 1) Establish the SAS video’s effectiveness in improving COVID-19 vaccine knowledge; 2) Establish the SAS video’s effectiveness in increasing behavioral intent toward COVID-19 vaccine; 3) Quantify people’s interest in watching a SAS video about COVID-19 vaccine; 4) Explore the differences in individual factors related to the levels of vaccine hesitancy between the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. Using a web-based recruitment platform, we will recruit over 10,000 adults from the United States who will be randomly assigned to a SAS video about COVID-19 vaccine (arm 1), or a text reporting the same story narrated in the treatment arm (arm 2), or a video with a health message about heart age (arm 3), or a video about daily choices (arm 4). We will also use a list experiment approach to assess behavioral intent to seek COVID-19-related information and get vaccinated. The results from this study could inform the future design and delivery ​​of accurate health information messages to counteract the issue of vaccine hesitancy.