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COVID-19 vaccine rollout risk communication strategies in Europe: a rapid response

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

George W. Warren, Ragnar Lofstedt

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-379
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number3-4
Accepted/In press2021

King's Authors


Risk communication is a vital part of any risk management strategy but has become even more important in the time of the COVID-19 global health crisis. In recent months, nations across Europe have begun to consider strategies for rolling out vaccines, which is widely seen as the way to overcome high death rates and widespread lockdowns over the course of 2020. In most European nations, vaccinations are not mandatory and thus public willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must be high to achieve lofty goals of reaching herd immunity from the virus. This paper evaluates current communication strategies on vaccine rollouts in several European nations: the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. Following an outline of the history of vaccination issues and unique public vaccine hesitancy profiles in each nation, an overview on current risk communication strategies around the vaccine rollout are offered, focusing on two key areas: (1) communication of the vaccine rollout timeline and ‘expectations management’, and (2) communication of which groups are to be prioritised for any vaccine. From the findings of the paper, it is recommended that nations aiming to promote high vaccine uptake and avoid trust-destroying events: promote informed consent amongst their citizens; are cautious in optimism and manage expectations appropriately; follow scientific advice to vaccine rollout strategies; disseminate and administer the vaccine using local trusted doctors, GPs and nurses; are open and honest about when people will get a vaccine and uncertainties associated with them.

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