So what will change their minds?
I cannot imagine that any amount of hectoring or shaming, or proclamations from the public-health or Democratic communities, will make much of a difference for this group. “I’ve lost all faith in the media and public-health officials,”said Myles Pindus, a 24-year-old in Brooklyn, who told me he is skeptical of the mRNA vaccines and is interested in the Johnson & Johnson shot. “It might sound crazy, but I’d rather go to Twitter and check out a few people I trust than take guidance from the CDC, or WHO, or Fauci,” Baca, the Colorado truck driver, told me. Other no-vaxxers offered similar appraisals of various Democrats and liberals, but they were typically less printable.
From my conversations, I see three ways to persuade no-vaxxers: make it more convenient to get a shot; make it less convenient to not get a shot; or encourage them to think more socially.
1. Try something like “DoorDash for vaccines.”
To get people to participate in an activity they don’t really care about, you make it as easy and tantalizing as possible. Some people have already suggested offering money, free food, or even lottery tickets in exchange for vaccination. But one source who asked to remain anonymous suggested that state health departments should offer something like DoorDash for vaccines.
With any new technology, the early adopters are the ones most willing to tolerate glitches and a bad experience. That’s fine when supply is limited, but as you try to get to mass market, you need to perfect the product and experience.
All of which to say: Cities should start to roll out a vaccine in-home service, which people can book on short notice. Providers come to you, and maybe bring you some sort of gift along with the vaccine. Cities should have enough capacity and staff to do that at this point, and a service such as this would be key to getting young people in particular to take it.
2. Make it suck more to not be vaccinated.
Governments and companies may find that soft bribery is the best way to get the no-vaxxers to the clinics. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for example, has linked her state reopening policies to progress in shots, letting restaurants and bars increase their occupancy once 60 percent of the state has been vaccinated, and promising to lift mask orders when 70 percent of Michiganders have received both doses.
Read: America is now in the hands of the vaccine-hesitant
Millions of people want to go to sporting events, attend concerts, or travel internationally. If those who cannot prove that they’ve been vaccinated are denied service, I expect that some will sign up for shots purely as a means of reengaging in their favorite activities. “If all or most countries instituted vaccine passports, that might change [my mind],” Younes, the attorney, told me.