The Ad Council, a non-profit organization that often partners with the federal government on public service announcements, has worked with the CDC and HHS over the past several months to push out advertisements to educate Americans about the vaccine and to reduce overall hesitancy. Some of those ads have appeared on Twitter under the HHS.gov account.
The federal government also worked with the Ad Council and another outside group, the COVID Collaborative, on the “It’s Up to You” presidential PSA for months ahead of its release, Covid Collaborative co-founder John Bridgeland said, including shooting much of the footage on Inauguration Day. The project was so secret that those involved had to sign nondisclosure agreements, he added.
The CDC and HHS have been working behind the scenes since December on the vaccine confidence campaign rollout. According to another internal HHS briefing document dated Dec. 29, 2020, the CDC’s campaign, titled, “Vaccinate with Confidence” aims to “share clear, complete, and accurate messages about COVID-19 vaccines,” “promote confidence among healthcare personnel in their decision to get vaccinated” and “engage communities in a sustainable, equitable and inclusive way.”
Part of the campaign will lean on the existing partnership with the Ad Council. The Dec. 29 document said community organizations are pushing out two sites, GetVaccineAnswers.org and DeTiDepende.org, to individuals in their area as a way to educate them about the vaccine’s benefits and the process of receiving the shot.
Bridgeland, a former George W. Bush administration domestic policy chief, said promoting the vaccination effort now, rather than waiting until everyone is eligible for a vaccine, is based on research that showed high demand already for information on the shots.
“We found the vast majority of Americans wanted education, information, answers to their questions now — even if the vaccine wasn’t available now,” he said, adding that the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative have closely coordinated its messaging with the CDC.
The Covid Collaborative is also helping with the production of PSAs featuring faith-based leaders and others viewed as trustworthy community messengers, Bridgeland said, though he declined to offer specifics or outline the timing.
Bridgeland voiced concerns about polls showing significant vaccine hesitancy among conservatives, adding that his organization has sought to find “conservative influencers” willing to promote the vaccine.
“We have to make sure this transcends politics,” he said. “It can’t be the mask game again. Vaccines are not political.”
One of the organization’s earliest ads featured former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who survived a bout with Covid-19.
Bridgeland also said he was “thrilled” to learn that Trump had received the vaccine before leaving office, but hoped he would do more to encourage his supporters to get their own shots.