Tennessee has launched a targeted ad blitz trying to get COVID vaccine holdouts to reconsider. The messages, titled “Give It A Shot,” were carefully crafted by recent work with a Tennessee focus group of vaccine skeptics.
The survey and focus group results revealed slight variations in concerns and trusted sources of information by race, location and ethnicity.
The focus group found that rural, white residents trust their personal physician above all other sources regarding the vaccine. So in one ad targeting the most hesitant group of rural, white conservatives, a young man wearing a Carhartt shirt and hat, buying a box of nails at a hardware store, mentions his doctor.
“There are a lot of opinions being shared,” he says to the camera. “But I had a chance to talk with my doctor about my concerns. He told me the vaccines are backed by decades of research.”
Black residents in Tennessee, however, put slightly more trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So there’s a specially tailored PSA addressing those concerns.
“I checked what the CDC says and spoke with my doctor about the potential side effects,” a Black man narrates as a Black doctor puts a Band-Aid on his arm. “It definitely made me much less anxious.”
The Tennessee Department of Health is spending $2.5 million placing the ads — available for viewing here — and trying to focus them on parts of the state where vaccinations are lagging most. Vaccination rates have slowed primarily in rural communities. Memphis has also fallen further behind other cities in the state.
“We recognize many Tennesseans have questions or concerns about the COVID vaccines, and our goal is that these messages help to address some of those hesitancies,” says Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee’s health commissioner. “At the end of the day, my hope is we will continue to see a steady increase in vaccine uptake across our state as more and more individuals feel more comfortable and confident in receiving the vaccine.”