Understanding what makes communication effective when designing public health messages is of key importance. This applies in particular to vaccination campaigns, which aim to encourage vaccine uptake and respond to vaccine hesitancy and dispel any myth or misinformation. This paper explores the ways in which the governments of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) promoted COVID-19 vaccination as a first-line strategy and studies health message effectiveness by examining the language of official vaccination campaigns, vaccine uptake across the different nations and the health message preferences of unvaccinated and vaccine sceptic individuals. The study considers communications beginning at the first lockdown until the point when daily COVID-19 updates ended for each nation. A corpus linguistic analysis of official government COVID-19 updates is combined with a qualitative examination of the expression of evaluation in governmental discourses, feedback from a Public Involvement Panel and insights from a nationally representative survey of adults in Great Britain to explore message production and reception. Fully vaccinated, unvaccinated and sceptic respondents showed similar health messaging preferences and perceptions of health communication efficacy, but unvaccinated and sceptic participants reported lower levels of compliance for all health messages considered. These results suggest that issues in health communication are not limited to vaccination hesitancy, and that in the future, successful vaccination campaigns need to address the determining factors of public attitudes and beliefs besides communication strategies.