ATLANTA - The Georgia Department of Public Health has launched a multi-platform advertising campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
"To our healthcare heroes, thank you," a narrator said in a video posted to YouTube Monday. "And now it's time for us to give back, to get vaccinated for COVID-19."
The education effort includes social media posts, digital ads, and billboards as well as TV and radio spots.
The Department of Public Health has done similar campaigns in the past about Alzheimer's awareness and flu inoculations.
A spokesperson said the first billboards went up in Dalton, Macon, Augusta, Albany, Savannah, Brunswick, and Athens on March 25, the same day the state expanded vaccine eligibility to all Georgians ages 16 and older.
According to the GADPH, the budget for the initial ads is $500,000, though that could expand depending on the state's vaccination rate and when vaccines will be approved for children. The funding comes from several sources including federal grants. Some of those grants are specific to targeting vaccinations, prevention, emergency preparedness, and education.
To compare, the GADPH gave a list of similar campaigns and the costs:
- Stroke Awareness - $250,000
- Immunizations (Flu) - $300,000
- Opioid Prevention - $500,000
- Alzheimer’s - $350,000
- Family Planning - $77,000
- WIC Breastfeeding Campaign - $200,000 - $350,000
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - $300,000
- State Cancer Aid Program - $250,000
The advertisements feature people of different ages and backgrounds and because the campaign is mostly digital, a spokesperson said GADPH can quickly tailor the messaging to different parts of the state and different populations if needed.
"I really like the campaign has sort of an emotional pull to it too in a sense that you know, we have seen heroism really from our healthcare workers and sort of acknowledging that we're all part of this team effort," said Dr. Amber Schmidtke, an epidemiologist who tracks Georgia COVID-19 data. "I think that that can be very powerful."
Schmidtke said the campaign helps to "normalize" vaccination and could convince some people who are reluctant to get vaccinated. Others, however, will need more personal interaction.
"It certainly isn't going to hurt anything and I think that it's possible that it will change some minds that are right on the fence about it. You know, it just sort of helps to give that little nudge and I think that that can be very powerful for a good chunk of the population. There's still going to be challenges when it comes to those who are a little more resistant or hesitant, but those will really require more one-on-one conversations with a lot of empathy and a lot of opportunity to ask questions and get answers," Schmidtke explained.
The federal government announced its own education campaign this week called "We Can Do This." The effort includes "The COVID-19 Community Corps," a grassroots group of healthcare professionals, faith leaders, and community organizations that can share information with others in their circle.
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