Early in the pandemic, when COVID-19 vaccines were just a glimmer on the horizon, the term “herd immunity” seemed to mean the demise of the virus. It was the point at which most Americans would be protected, and we’d get our lives back to “normal.”
That was the hope.
As of today, more than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine, but daily vaccination rates are falling. Now, there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the country will not reach the herd immunity threshold in the near future, and perhaps never.
They are coming to the conclusion that the virus will not go away, as we had hoped. It will instead most likely become a manageable threat, but one that will continue to circulate in the United States for the foreseeable future, continuing to cause hospitalizations and deaths – albeit on a smaller scale.
Just how manageable the virus will turn out to be depends on two key factors: How the virus evolves over time, and how many people get vaccinated. The unfortunate news is that we are not heading in the right direction. COVID-19 variants continue to evolve, becoming more infectious each time, and scientists have deemed our vaccination rates far too slow for the global population to successfully achieve herd immunity.
So, what can we do?
While many thought a COVID-19 vaccine was certainly decades away, our collaborative advancements in science instead allowed us to develop many in less than a year. Our herculean efforts as individuals, companies, and governments must now turn to encouraging those around us to get vaccinated as soon as they can, at the risk of facing a grim outcome.
I’m happy to announce that AB InBev’s partnership with UNITAR, alongside the University of Brighton and the International Social Marketing Association, has led to the creation of a two-part COVID-19 vaccination campaign toolkit designed to increase vaccine uptake across communities. The toolkit, developed closely with Professor Jeff French, is based on years of social norms marketing and research and has been designed to efficiently and effectively shift consumer behaviors for the better.
Governments and public entities can use the tailored “Toolkit 1.0,” which provides guidelines on how to manage important aspects such as persuasion, effective communication, and fake news in their own vaccination campaigns. “Toolkit 2.0,” on the other hand, has been specifically designed to guide companies in how they can successfully contribute to country-wide efforts set forth by local governments and form valuable public-private partnerships.
We believe private companies can meaningfully contribute to increasing vaccine uptake around the world if they work in close collaboration with government actors and local public health organizations. This is especially relevant now, as trust in companies has been shown to have risen significantly during the pandemic, favorably positioning businesses to make a difference in public education efforts.
Here’s to coming together at a distance and getting vaccinated so we can safely do so in person once again!
All my best,