The Impact of COVID Vaccine Acceptance on Small Businesses

The connection between acceptance of the COVID vaccine and small business is very simple: they can greatly benefit each other. Now that the vaccines are available for all small business employees, employers will have to worry much less about being short-staffed or having a team member’s positive coronavirus test negatively affect their operating capabilities.   As more community members are vaccinated, restrictions are lifted, consumers begin to feel more comfortable patronizing small local businesses rather than purchasing the items they need from online large retailers who will ship directly to their home, more revenue will flow to these small businesses and stay local.

In turn, small business owners also have the power to drive vaccine acceptance. In a recent study, 61% of respondents said they’d take the vaccine recommended by their employer. Supporting vaccine acceptance has direct benefits for small business owners.  Once we reach an appropriate level of acceptance, the COVID vaccines have the power to help us return to some modicum of pre-pandemic normal.  Performance venues that have been forced to shutter will raise their curtains once again.  Date nights out to our favorite spots will return. Trips to the local coffee shop will be a welcome respite from a year of brewing our own pots at home. Consumer behavior may take some time to fully return to pre-pandemic trends, and it’s likely that some of the changes driven by the pandemic may become permanent.  Still, the vaccine will likely lead to a return of consumption patterns that many small businesses are depending on in order to survive.    So…. Let’s Talk!!

 “Have the Talk” – Engage employees, clients, stakeholders and community members in conversations about COVID-19 vaccination.

 The Indiana Region of the American Red Cross has been working tirelessly in this space to ensure resources were available to any and all organizations that are willing to have conversations regarding COVID vaccine acceptance.  Promoting the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccination begins with open and honest dialogue in our communities. Evidence suggests that simply telling community members to get vaccinated has limited efficacy. Instead, organizations are encouraged to identify opportunities to engage and to support informal conversations around vaccination. The objective is to provide space for dialogue, not to pressure people to get vaccinated. Many in our communities want to understand more about the vaccine, how it works, possible side-effects, etc., before putting the vaccine in their bodies. We should celebrate this decision-making process and seek to support it any way we can. Stated simply, we all need to “have the talk” about COVID-19 vaccination with our clients, our stakeholders and in our communities.

When having a vaccine conversation, we recommend starting from a place of compassion and trust. Convey that you are here to support the decision process, not to pressure someone into doing something they aren’t comfortable doing. During these conversations, it is possible that a community member may have a question about the vaccine that you can’t answer. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert to talk about vaccination. A powerful response to questions you can’t answer is to point the community member to a trusted information source. We’re encouraging all partners to direct community members to the following resources which are updated regularly with evidence-based information:

Community organizations are already experts in talking and working with members of our community. However, we understand that talking about health topics can be challenging. We’ve compiled a list of simple tips that may help foster a productive vaccine conversation:

  • Listen more than you talk
  • Don’t feel like you have to convince anyone to get vaccinated
  • Acknowledge concerns and affirm feelings
  • Make it a real dialogue, not a sales pitch
  • End with action and next steps (such as a promise to find answers or an expert to talk with and follow-up on issues)
  • Offer support to help folks get a vaccine appointment or access a vaccine site
  • Be willing to seek out additional help if needed

Simply initiating or supporting an informal dialogue can be highly impactful. Organizations are encouraged to find opportunities to incorporate discussions of the vaccination into routine service delivery activities whenever possible, normalizing vaccine discussions and leveraging trust.

The Indiana Region of the American Red Cross has produced several resources that can aid organizations in promoting vaccine discussions:

Kristin Marlow
Executive Director
American Red Cross | NWI Chapter
[email protected]