Hedges, a medical anthropologist, was joined by undergraduate
students Maggie Willson, an anthropology student, and Donovan Lopez,
who is majoring in fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design. The
student work was funded by the Undergraduate Research Assistant
Program administered through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.
The messaging on the graphics used information gleaned from
open-ended interviews with people who were hesitant about the vaccine
as well as those who were hesitant and changed their minds, Hedges said.
"When people are scrolling through social media, we wanted them
to see images that could get the messages across based on the concerns
and insights we've heard," Hedges said.
While Hedges had warned her Vaccinate West Michigan colleagues in the
spring that the initial demand for vaccines would eventually give way
to hesitancy, she admitted she was surprised at how quickly the
Her conversations with those interviewed have revealed "a lot of
undecided in the middle," she said.
"There is a spectrum of people trying to make the best decision
they can at that time," Hedges said.
That's why it's important to understand the various reasons for
hesitancy in that moment, Hedges said. Reasons cited during interviews
have included distrust about the health care system, concerns about
safety and beliefs about personal choice.
The graphics needed to be able to cut through a lot of information on
vaccines, especially since finding quality, trustworthy information
can be challenging, Hedges said.
She said Lopez had clear ideas for how to accomplish that goal,
including sticking with a square image format that would work across
all social media platforms.
Lopez said in designing the graphics, he kept in mind that he needed
to find the most effective way to quickly capture the attention of an
audience, which he said meant creating attractive designs with simple messaging.
"If you’re scrolling though social media, people will respond to
an image with lots of colors and not as much text, rather than a big
text wall of information they have seen before," Lopez said.
He said this experience of working with a client, where he was able
to explain his design strategy and receive feedback, then see his work
distributed by professionals, was "elevating."