With President Joe Biden announcing on Sept. 9, 2021, proposed vaccine mandates for as many as 100 million people, vaccine hesitancy is still very much an area of concern for risk communicators.

In February, the Pathway team presented a three-part look at vaccine hesitancy (links below).

How Do You Explain Vaccine Hesitancy? Part 1

Vaccine hesitancy is the refusal of or delay in accepting vaccines. This hesitancy ranges from those who fully accept vaccination to those who delay vaccination to those who completely reject it.

Part 1 of this series looks at the history of vaccine hesitancy, what drives this hesitancy, and contextual factors for vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 and other vaccines.

How Do You Explain Vaccine Hesitancy? Part 2

In part 2 of this series, the Pathway team looks at individual and group factors for vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 and other vaccines. The post also delves into trust determination, a key aspect of risk communication.

How Do You Explain Vaccine Hesitancy? Part 3

Part 3 of this series examines vaccine-specific factors for vaccine hesitancy and characteristics of successful vaccine efforts and campaigns.


Evaluation research indicates Americans’ perceptions about COVID-19 vaccines and their safety differ by political party, race, age, and geography. As with most information campaigns, risk communicators must consider a wide variety of factors when talking about vaccines and addressing vaccine hesitancy.

The preceding blog entries provide useful information for a subject at the very forefront of public discourse.

Pathway Prompt: What observations have you made about vaccine hesitancy?

Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide

More information about risk, high-concern, and crisis communication can be found in Dr. Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication.

This master class introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.

The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice. More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing info@pathwaycommunication.com.

Dr. Vincent Covello

Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books.