The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled a large-scale effort to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, rolling out its first national ad campaign and announcing a national network of community organizations, sports leagues and other leaders to boost confidence in the vaccines.
The Department of Health and Human Services is spending $10 million to air four new TV ads this month, two administration officials told CNN, framing vaccination as a way for Americans to fight back against the pandemic and reclaim their lives with the slogan “We can do this.” One of the ads is in Spanish and another, narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent intellectual, author and filmmaker, is aimed at Black Americans.
The rollout comes as the Biden administration prepares for the next phase of the US’s vaccination effort, with vaccines becoming more accessible and more widely available. All adults are expected to be eligible to get their shot by May 1, putting concerns about vaccine hesitancy front of mind.
Beyond TV ads, the administration’s vaccine confidence campaign centers around efforts to equip trusted voices with the information and resources to tout the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine. The administration honed in on those efforts after research showed that Americans were most likely to rely on doctors and community leaders as they decide whether to get vaccinated.
Nearly 300 organizations – including doctors’ groups, sports leagues, rural organizations, unions and religious groups – have signed up to be part of that effort, which the administration is calling the COVID-19 Community Corps.
The administration plans to provide those groups with weekly updates about the science behind the vaccines as well as talking points, factsheets and other resources to help people schedule their vaccine appointments.
HHS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also launching new profile picture frames on Facebook to help Americans who have or plan to get vaccinated to encourage their friends and families. Facebook will promote the frames and encourage influencers to use them, HHS said in a statement.
The Community Corps includes a slew of groups who could appeal to conservatives – including NASCAR, evangelical Christian groups and veterans’ organizations – a demographic the administration is honing in on after several polls showed there are least likely to plan to get vaccinated. About 47% of people who supported Trump in the 2020 election said they would not get a coronavirus vaccine if it became available to them, according to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
The Community Corps also includes groups representing Black and Hispanic communities, groups that are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus due to high rates of preexisting conditions and high-risk, essential work.
The ads released Thursday by the administration will air on Black and Spanish-language media platforms, in addition to airing on cable and broadcast networks.
The Biden administration also announced plans last week to spend nearly $10 billion to expand access to coronavirus vaccines for hardest-hit and highest-risk communities, including $3 billion to strengthen confidence in the vaccine in those communities.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy are meeting Thursday morning with founding members of the Community Corps.
Thursday’s rollout is just one step in the administration’s efforts to promote and increase confidence in the coronavirus vaccines. Congress allocated $1 billion toward that effort through the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Biden signed into law last month.