Covid Vaccine Advertising Aims To Influence People Without Alienating Them | Coronavirus
IIn England, the NHS hired Elton John and Michael Caine for a lighthearted social media campaign aimed at convincing the public that Covid vaccines are safe and effective. In Germany, a more sober public information campaign was led by a virologist and health worker. And in France and elsewhere there were no mass campaigns aimed at increasing vaccine adoption.
Government attempts to increase vaccine adoption will be increasingly scrutinized in the coming months as more vaccines become available. Public health experts say they have to walk a fine line between building confidence and not giving the public the push.
Germany’s campaign entitled “Germany Pulls Up Its Sleeves” was broadcast on the radio, in regional newspapers and on posters. At a time when the public is being urged to stay home and avoid commuting, the Ministry of Health has decided to spend more than half of its € 25 million campaign budget on outdoor advertising.
A new campaign aimed at instilling confidence among younger people is set to be launched when the vaccine becomes more widespread.
A German vaccine poster. Photo: Federal Ministry of Health
There was no major mass information campaign in France. Instead, Prime Minister Jean Castex, Health Minister Olivier Véran and the country’s “Monsieur Vaccin” give Prof the right to shoot.
In the United States, the federal government is holding back a nationwide drive to raise awareness until vaccine supply rises and is instead focusing its efforts on vaccine-reluctant minority communities.
“When it comes to changing attitudes towards vaccines, it is crucial to distinguish between public information campaigns that want to educate the public and those that want to convince them,” says Philipp Schmid, behavioral scientist who fosters vaccine skepticism at the university Explores Erfurt.
“At least in Germany, the latter would risk a backlash. But if you don’t approach the problem proactively at all, you end up playing with the anti-vaxxers to catch up. In a sense, governments need to work on a parallel rollout of vaccines – to immunize the public against denial of science. “
Schmid praised the UK’s public awareness campaign: “It was more bottom-up than the efforts we’ve seen in Germany so far, and more proactive in addressing ethnic minorities.”
Noel Brewer, a professor of health behavior at the University of North Carolina, said the UK had learned a lot from the controversy in the late 1990s over Andrew Wakefield’s discredited study linking the MMR vaccine to autism. “It was badly handled at the time, but it has resulted in a highly integrated vaccine campaign that is unique in the world,” said Brewer.
Where governments have remained inactive or even sowed suspicion of vaccines, other parties have had to take the educational work into their own hands.
A Brazilian poster, part of the Yes to Vaccination campaign. Photo: Mauricio Fidalgo
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly undermined vaccination, claiming he would not get himself vaccinated and warning that the Pfizer shots could turn recipients into crocodiles. When Brazil delivered its first shot on January 17, it was the governor of São Paulo, not Bolsonaro, who oversaw the shooting ceremony.
In response to government inaction and the president’s anti-science stance, two civil society campaigns have emerged to advocate vaccination. One initiative, Unidos pela Vacina (United for Vaccines), was launched by Brazil’s richest woman Luiza Trajano, a billionaire retailer who some analysts have identified as a potential future candidate for the presidency.
“Our goal is to have all Brazilians vaccinated by September this year,” said Trajano in a video the initiative launched in early February. “We don’t discuss politics. We’re not looking for blame. What we are talking about is how to give a vaccine to every person in our country … For every minute that is wasted, hundreds of lives are being lost in this struggle. “
Another campaign is led by Brazilian newspapers and broadcasters. Vaccination, Sim! (Yes to Vaccination) has recruited prominent actors, journalists, thinkers and doctors, including Lázaro Ramos, Fernanda Montenegro, Aline Midlej, Djamila Ribeiro and Drauzio Varella.