As the world slowly but surely starts to vaccinate against COVID-19 the issue has become divisive among certain groups. But who and how are people and the media influencing this global effort?
Celebrities playing a persuasive role in health issues is nothing new. Princess Diana famously helped humanise Aids when she shook the hand of a man suffering from the virus, way back in 1956 Elvis Presley was injected with the Polio vaccine live on TV to encourage teenagers to do the same.
As the UK and USA fight a far-further spread issue, the raft of celebrities receiving the vaccine and publicising it is bigger than in Australia for the time-being, but this is likely promoting the idea to fans worldwide.
Naturally many of the first global celebrities who received the vaccine skew older, including the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Steve Martin, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench and vaccine-fund-queen herself Dolly Parton.
This is now in full swing in other countries, with younger celebrities in full health are posting their jabs online to spread the message about community protection.
DOES IT WORK?
Mostly known for skills like acting or singing rather than scientific knowledge, the question of whether celebrity endorsements really work is an interesting one. An article from the Conversation explains it like this:
"Research has shown that celebrity endorsements can trigger biological, psychological and social responses in people that make them more trusting of what celebrities say and do, including their endorsement of health information.
It works because the celebrities’ characteristics are transferred to the endorsed products. The most effective celebrity advocates are those viewed as credible — a perception linked to their perceived “success” in life."
Of course this doesn't work on everyone, for many behavioural change comes from using key influencers to provide all the facts and let consumers make up their own minds, in a less pointed way. In this light celebrities now often promote an illness to spread understanding and knowledge of the issue in a more subtle way, think Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigan on miscarriage awareness and the conversation around it or Lena Dunham with her very open discussion about her endometriosis.
ARGUABLY MORE INFLUENTIAL THAN CELEBRITIES
The media of course has a huge role to play in people's views on the vaccine. As we have seen misinformation plague the conversation around covid generally, it is also having a huge impact on people's understanding of the vaccine, and in turn their willingness to receive it. After one NSW woman died after receiving the vaccine there have been calls that the media need be much more cautious in the way it spreads information and fear, potentially causing far more harm than any rare issues caused by the vaccine itself.
Locally Facebook has been posting information like the below to inform its users and cut through baseless rumours.
Image Source: Facebook
THOSE DOING IT DIFFERENTLY
Dylan Alcott joked about the vaccine's ability to do more than simply protect against the virus when he got his shot (read the last line) - and yes, there were some people in the comments fooled by even that.
Amy Schumer promoted an initiative called #downtogown which asked citizens to wear a fancy dress while they got their jab. The idea of course injected :) some fun into the potentially nerve-wracking outing but served to show an appreciation of the gravity of the moment too - highlighting the appreciation of health workers
Image Source: Instagram @amyschumer
Mariah Carey hit her high notes whilst receiving the jab:
Ryan Reynolds went straight for a joke in the realm of anti-vax conspiracy theorists:
In a different appeal Madonna used the dialogue and popularity of the vaccine to talk about how we should view gun control: