Houston expert explains role of personal conversation, why officials cannot break vaccine hesitancy alone

Vaccination rates against COVID-19 have sped up slightly in recent weeks after appearing to plateau at the start of the summer. 

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Yet, as of mid-August, Texas is still below a 50% population vaccination rate. While public health officials continue to offer giveaways and perks to convince people to get the jab, communications professor Dr. Felicia Harris of the University of Houston Downtown argues the final chapter of vaccinating our way out of the pandemic sits largely in the hands of friends and family willing to share their vaccine experience.

In a live interview on The NewsEdge with FOX 26 anchor Kaitlin Monte, Dr. Harris explained how health promotion and behavior experts can only go so far, arguing effective tactics for convincing a person to adopt a new health behavior often depend on a person’s social circles and the word-of-mouth experiences from their trusted loved ones.

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According to Dr. Harris, getting more people vaccinated will require more people to speak up about their experiences with the vaccines. She says these conversations are best received by those closest to you, giving the example that she may not talk to her students about vaccines but has, and continues, to speak with her family members about her experience getting the shots.

Watch the video above to hear more from Dr. Harris on how to have effective conversations about vaccine hesitancy with those you love, including how to address misinformation.