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Can ‘Get The Facts Jax’ Vaccine Campaign Change Minds?

Todd Dowd closes his eyes as he receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Thursday, May 13, 2021, at a mobile vaccination site at the Greater Bethel Church in Miami.
Wilfredo Lee
/
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Todd Dowd closes his eyes as he receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Thursday, May 13, 2021, at a mobile vaccination site at the Greater Bethel Church in Miami.

A University of Florida medical communications expert said the local “Get The Facts Jax” pro-vaccination campaign may only be effective at reaching some groups.

“Get The Facts Jax” is a vaccine promotion campaign that launched last week and is run through a partnership with Jacksonville hospitals and health organizations. The campaign’s  push comes as Duval County had 8,308 new COVID-19 cases reported last week.

While the campaign may be effective at targeting some groups, aspects of the campaign hinder its effectiveness at convincing the others, said Kim Walsh-Childers, a UF Medical Communications professor and researcher.

She cited another researcher’s study grouping four types of people who are less likely to get vaccinated:

  • Watchful: Those who are waiting for more information or more people to get vaccinated before they do. The study estimates this group makes up 11% of Florida’s population.
  • Cost-Anxious: Those who want to get vaccinated, but cannot afford to miss work or the vaccine costs. The study estimates this group makes up 10% of Florida’s population
  • System Distrusters: Those who believe that the healthcare system has treated them unfairly in the past. The study estimates this group makes up 3% of Florida’s population.
  • COVID Skeptics: Those who don’t believe COVID-19 is dangerous or a threat. The study estimates this group makes up 17% of Florida’s population.

Health campaigns are usually targeted to address specific people with specific concerns, Walsh-Childers said. To her, the “Get The Facts Jax” campaign is targeting the Watchful category of people.

The campaign’s website cites five different CDC articles about the vaccine, ranging from dispelling myths to talking about the vaccine’s safety. The articles may convince people who are waiting on more information, but will not be as effective with people who are distrustful of the healthcare system or have financial concerns, Walsh-Childers said.

To reach people that are distrustful, the campaign could have partnered with local community leaders, like church leaders or Jacksonville Jaguars players, to bring in advocates they do trust, she said. 

Information about the city’s free vaccine transportation programs and worker’s legal rights if they are punished for missing work because of vaccine symptoms could have convinced cost-anxious people to get vaccinated, she said. 

However, Walsh-Childers said any campaign is unlikely to convince COVID skeptics to get vaccinated.

“In order for a campaign to be effective, you first have to persuade people that there is something they need to be protected against,” she said. “If they don't believe that there's anything they really need to be protected against, they're not going to be willing to get the vaccine.”

Since the week the campaign launched, 15,583 in the county got vaccinated, an increase from around 9,613 the previous week. Duval County’s vaccine rate is 52% percent.

Tristan Wood can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @TristanDWood.