Biden administration announces ad campaign to combat Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy

An Amazon employee receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot at an Amazon fulfillment centre in North Las Vegas,
An Amazon employee receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot at an Amazon fulfillment centre in North Las Vegas,PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The Biden administration on Thursday (April 1) announced an advertising campaign intended to encourage as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The campaign, with ads in English and Spanish that will air throughout April on network TV and cable channels nationwide, as well as online, comes as the administration and states are rapidly expanding access to coronavirus vaccines, but with some communities continuing to express scepticism about safety and the need to get the shots.

President Joe Biden announced last week a new goal of administering 200 million doses by his 100th day in office, doubling his initial goal of "100 million shots in the arms" of Americans that he set when he was inaugurated.

In an address to the nation last month, he announced a goal of making all United States adults eligible for a vaccine by May 1.

Governors and public health officials in more than 40 states have said that they will meet or beat that deadline.

But deep scepticism about the vaccine remains a problem, particularly among black people, Latinos, Republicans and white evangelicals.

And a mistake at a plant in Baltimore manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines, where workers accidentally conflated the ingredients, could also increase anxiety.

Up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine were contaminated in the mix-up, delaying future shipments of its doses in the US.

Administration officials still expect to soon face the possibility of supply exceeding demand if many Americans remain reluctant to be vaccinated.

With cases rising in some parts of the country again and variants spreading, getting as many people as possible vaccinated will be critical to containing the pandemic and allowing a return to a more normal way of life.

Two hundred and seventy-five organisations will participate in the administration's new public awareness push - including NASCAR, the Catholic Health Association of the United States and the North American Meat Institute - that is aimed at communities where vaccine hesitancy remains high.

Among the organisations are many Catholic and evangelical groups that are expected to help address religious concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which uses abortion-derived fetal cell lines.

The group is collectively called the Covid-19 Community Corps, administration officials said, and participating organisations are able to reach millions of Americans who trust those individual groups.