Businesses have a role to play in building vaccine trust. Here’s why

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Richard Edelman, President, Edelman & Julie Louise Gerberding, Executive Vice President & Chief Patient Officer, MSD


  • Vaccine hesitancy poses a major threat to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Building and sustaining public trust and confidence in immunization systems is essential and employers, as trusted messengers of credible information, can play a critical role.
  • With 78% of people saying that businesses have a responsibility to help protect their employees and their communities, the World Economic Forum, Edelman and MSD, is initiating a coalition committed to building and sustaining vaccine confidence and literacy in the workplace.

The destruction wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic defies hyperbole. The devastation to lives, livelihoods, and economies is already incalculable, and the end is not in sight. While everyone is at some risk, the virus has affected our most vulnerable and laid bare the inequities that plague our societies.

But lurking behind the pandemic itself is another force – an alarming reluctance to receive a pandemic vaccine, even one proven to meet high standards for safety and effectiveness.

Population immunity is essential to recovery

As business leaders, we are acutely aware of what is on the line for our companies as we start on the long path to pandemic recovery. But if we fail to accelerate and support efforts toward population immunity, the economic consequences will dwarf what we’ve seen so far.

In the coming months, the World Economic Forum will partner with its member companies to support private sector employers in their efforts to help build confidence in and understanding of vaccines. By facilitating employer access to credible and appropriate information and tools, we can collectively support these trusted stakeholders in their efforts to inform employees and improve confidence.

What is vaccine hesitancy and why does it matter?

The history of vaccines is one of public health successes. While medicines help treat diseases, vaccines can help prevent people from getting sick in the first place. However, despite the successes of vaccination, vaccine hesitancy – defined by the WHO as a “delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services,” – threatens to reverse the progress made in combatting serious and preventable infectious diseases.

It’s important to note that vaccine hesitancy is not just about the small but vocal minority of the population that is anti-vaccination. Rather, hesitancy happens along a broad continuum of opinion that ranges from anti-vaccination at one end to vaccine acceptance at the other end. Vaccine hesitancy is complex, and a person’s hesitancy may change depending on the context of time, place, and the specific vaccine.

Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy is not new nor is it exclusive to any one disease. In fact, even before the current pandemic, more than 90% of countries in the world have been challenged by this threat to public health.

But in the face of COVID-19, vaccine hesitancy poses a major threat, not only to people at risk, but also to businesses and economies around the world.

To help ensure public confidence, scientists, regulators, biopharmaceutical companies, and other leaders have reinforced commitments to ensuring that potential vaccines are tested in accordance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles. But even if their use is authorized based on robust scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness, these vaccines will be of limited value if people do not accept them. Public trust and confidence are at the core of successful immunization systems. Building and sustaining that trust is essential.

That’s where we as employers play an important role. We must act collectively and with urgency to support that public trust and confidence, and we need your leadership. We are the right messengers for this moment, not only because we are trusted, but because we have a moral and ethical obligation to lead this fight.

The latest Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Workplace Trust and the Coronavirusreveals that employees trust their employers to provide credible information about COVID-19. Furthermore, 78% of people say that businesses have a responsibility to ensure their employees are protected from the virus and do not spread it into the community.

In an era when people may be wary of traditional sources of information, such as governments and media, employers are essential messengers of high-quality, reliable information.

Image: Edelman

Public health is a business imperative

Protecting the health of our employees is not only our moral responsibility, but it is also a business imperative – one critical to the restoration of our financial health. In a pre-pandemic world, companies in the United States alone lost an estimated $530 billion per year in illness-related productivity. Promoting the health of our employees, and in turn, investing in global recovery is paramount.

We know that healthy employees help keep our businesses healthy in return. How we embark on this road is critical to the economic sustainability of our communities.

The future will remain in suspended animation unless we leverage our roles as employers to promote a credible, factual understanding of infectious disease, disease prevention, and confidence in vaccination.

We need decisive action right now to end this era of uncertainty and mistrust. When the books about this dark chapter in world history are written, how company leaders performed, or didn’t, will matter. The words of President John F. Kennedy, who dared to stay the course on the space race even after setbacks and defeat, are relevant, “For courage – not complacency – is our need today. Leadership not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead and lead vigorously.”

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

What we need for a better European Solidarity Corps

Main results of Environment Council of 09 October 2018

EU to scrutinise foreign direct investment more closely

Yemen war: UN-backed talks to silence the guns due to begin in Stockholm

Galileo and EGNOS programmes back in orbit powered with €70 billion

80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

EU-US Trade: European Commission endorses rebalancing duties on US products

Tanzania’s Dual Burden

In Mozambique, it’s ‘a matter of the heart’ says Guterres, lauding the cyclone-struck nation’s ‘undeniable moral authority’

Forty-two countries adopt new OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

Eliminating hepatitis calls for ‘bold political leadership, with investments to match,’ UN health chief says

Peacekeeping: A ‘great opportunity’ to develop professionally and personally

EU job-search aid worth €2 million for 500 former shipbuilding workers in Spain

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

Scientists are growing meat on blades of grass

These cities score an ‘A’ for environmental action – but hundreds more are falling behind

The world needs a circular economy. Help us make it happen

3 trends that will transform the energy industry

Somalia: UN congratulates Puntland region’s newly-elected President

Climate change is a security threat. We must act now

How powering food storage could end hunger

This Netherlands football stadium creates its own energy and stores it in electric car batteries

Tourism offers much to the EU gets a little

Peace in the Gulf ‘at a critical juncture’ says DiCarlo, urging continuation of Iran nuclear deal

Next six months crucial for the EU, says von der Leyen at the start of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU

Russia must urgently step up fight against foreign bribery

UN forum spotlights cities, where struggle for sustainability ‘will be won or lost’

Corruption thwarts attempts to build a better world and ‘must be fought by all, for all’

How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: Strategies and reflections

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

The Amazon is reaching a dangerous tipping-point. We need to scale solutions now if we have any chance of saving it

Developing countries should not be liable for emissions ‘accumulated throughout history’, key UN development forum hears

Green Deal: Coal and other carbon-intensive regions and the Commission launch the European Just Transition Platform

Coronavirus update: UN addresses school disruptions, suspends public access to New York Headquarters

First Western Sahara talks at UN in six years, begin in Geneva

With millions of girls ‘at risk’ today of genital mutilation, UN chief calls for zero tolerance

Historian Niall Ferguson on what the pandemic means for the global economy, geopolitics – and parties

Trade barriers are slowing plastic-pollution action. Here’s how to fix it

Italy’s dilemma after Merkel-Hollande agreed loose banking union

EU: All economic indicators in free fall

Immigration crisis at its very worst: EU to outsource rescue business to North Africa?

Paradise islands of Pacific increasingly vulnerable to climate change, as UN boosts resilience

CEOs say these 4 factors will shape business in 2020

How Google is fighting fire with real-time mapping data

This new initiative aims to make cybercrime harder – and riskier – to commit

As conflicts become more complex, ‘mediation is no longer an option; it is a necessity’, UN chief tells Security Council

Marco Polo’s Dream

BRICS’ New Development Bank turns four: what has it achieved?

The Great Reset and digital trust: 3 lessons on digital tools from the COVID-19 crisis

This is how many people are forcibly displaced worldwide

European Parliament gives green light to Christine Lagarde

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

Is the ECB enforcing the will of the big Eurozone member states on the small? Can the euro area live with that?

EU budget: Commission proposes to increase funding to support the environment and climate action

UN forum to explore use of outer space to improve lives, protect planet

Beyond self-regulation: dealing with Europe’s consumption problem

Factory workers are facing a mental health crisis. Here’s how to respond

The Greta effect? Why businesses are more committed to climate action in 2020

Parenting in the time of COVID-19? Consider these 6 tips from the WHO

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s