Story at a glance

  • President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services will embark on an advertising-heavy campaign to increase positive perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Recent data suggests 60 percent of Americans would get vaccinated.

As the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine makes its first rounds to select demographics across the country, the Trump administration appears to be stepping in to promote positive messaging about the vaccine with a $250 million public education campaign.

The New York Times writes that the campaign is aimed at encouraging Americans to get vaccinated when it becomes available for their demographic. 

U.S. officials note that it will be difficult to overcome the misinformation spread about COVID-19 that may make some reticent to receive the vaccine when it becomes widely available.


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“When you have an anti-science element together with a divisiveness in the country, it will be challenging,” Anthony Fauci told reporters on Friday. “But you know, we’ve done challenging things before.”

Launched beneath the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the campaign will be heavily focused on media communications, with an estimated $115 million dollar budget allocated for the campaign, called Building Vaccine Confidence.

Spanning three tiers, the campaign will focus on national engagement first, with an emphasis on the “Movable Middle” or people who are unsure about whether or not to get a COVID-19 vaccine but can be persuaded otherwise, according to market research. 

The first ads for the campaign are going to hit radios and digital media outlets on Jan. 25, 2021, with a staggered launch on channels from late January to March. 

Tier 2 will increase public messaging to vulnerable demographics, specifically people who have been disproportionately affected by the virus due to their race or demographics. This includes Black Americans, Native and Indigenous Americans, American Pacific Islanders, Hispanic Americans, people with preexisting conditions, and health care workers.

Tier 3 is titled “Urgent Response,” and while vague, it appears to build infrastructure for the government to respond to outbreaks quickly using reserve resources.

The Building Vaccine Confidence campaign is expected to last until September 2021. 

Recent polling data surrounding Americans’ perception of vaccines notes that while the intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine is at a high 60 percent, the issue becomes less unified among party lines. 

More Democrat-identifying respondents said they were likely to get vaccinated, at 69 percent — above the estimated national average — while 50 percent of Republican-identifying respondents said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

“That implies that our intentions to vaccinate are very much tied to what our political leaders are saying,” Matthew Motta, a political scientist at Oklahoma State University, said. “So a bipartisan messaging strategy is very much needed.”


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Published on Dec 15, 2020