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Communication and leadership in times of crisis: analyzing the cultural competency of US state governors during the vaccine administration phase of the COVID-19 pandemic

Ryan J. Lofaro (School of Public Administration, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)
Alka Sapat (School of Public Administration, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 23 February 2022

Issue publication date: 13 July 2022

315

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to analyze the common vaccine equity practices expressed by United States (US) governors in their COVID-19 press conferences—with a specific focus on equitable vaccine distribution and overcoming vaccine hesitancy—in order to provide an understanding of gubernatorial cultural competency during the vaccine administration phase of the pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach

This article employs a qualitative content analysis of the COVID-19 press conferences held by US governors from November 1, 2020, to August 14, 2021, to inductively identify themes in socially equitable and culturally competent vaccine administration strategies and rhetoric.

Findings

The article finds that common strategies aimed at providing equitable access to vaccines and combating vaccine hesitancy in communities of color include utilizing data to target communities where vaccines are needed, meeting people where they are at by working with community leaders and organizations, addressing language concerns, educating skeptics and appealing to communitarian and familial values. The findings also show that US governors tended to embrace a general prioritization lens rather than focusing on the unique needs of communities of color, with scant attention paid to the historical instances of public health discrimination that have influenced vaccine hesitancy within such communities.

Originality/value

This article provides an understanding of the equitable and culturally competent messages and strategies conveyed by sub-national leaders during the vaccination phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords

Citation

Lofaro, R.J. and Sapat, A. (2022), "Communication and leadership in times of crisis: analyzing the cultural competency of US state governors during the vaccine administration phase of the COVID-19 pandemic", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 173-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPL-09-2021-0053

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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