Conspiracy theories and Internet nonsense aside, significant social change almost always follows the same pattern, the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine included.
According to analyses of change movements around the world, people generally fall into one of four categories (Everett Rogers, 1971). Innovators are those who enthusiastically adapt to the change, willing to take a risk to get the benefit. Early adopters come on board after they come to understand the benefits and see the positive experience of the innovators.
The late adopters are usually skeptical of innovators and early adopters and are reluctant to change until they see the social and/or economic benefits and ultimately yield to social pressure.
The laggards, usually about 16 per cent of the population, are generally fearful of change. They cling to old ideas and refuse to change even in the face of empirical evidence. This group may never embrace the change, even as they suffer the consequences.
With this in mind, communication about the urgency, benefit and long-term impact of the vaccine is not the sole responsibility of the government, public health officials or the media. Those of us who are already vaccinated have a critically important role to play too. Each person we influence to get vaccinated may save a life and stop the spread.
Susan Simosko Debling