The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed an initiative called “The COVID-19 Community Corp.” that has been developed under its COVID-19 public education campaign known as “We Can Do This.” The COVID vaccine promotion initiative will engage more than 275 groups to work with the U.S. government to help increase the number of Americans taking the three experimental COVID-19 vaccines currently being distributed under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).1
The government will provide COVID-19 Community Corp. members with pro-vaccine information to share with their family, friends and neighbors. The information will include a vaccine safety sheet, tips on how to convince people to get the vaccine, and “hints for planning and attending community events.”2 COVID-19 Community Corp. members are considered “trusted messengers” as they disperse the information carefully selected by the government to promote vaccination.3
“They need to hear from the people they trust”
Vice President Kamala Harris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD led the inaugural COVID-19 Community Corp. meeting. Vice President Harris said with regard to those who have not yet gotten the vaccine or are hesitant or do not plan to get it,
They need to hear from the people they trust and again, that is you. The basic message of course we all know, is pretty straight forward: the vaccine is safe, and it will save lives.4
The government will not only rely on friends, family and neighbors to coerce hesitant members of the public to get the vaccine, but will also train business, Native, tribal, veteran and faith community leaders, along with the organizations such as NAACP, GLAAD and major sports leagues like the MLB, NFL and NASCAR.5
Praising the government’s collaboration with faith leaders and places of worship, Hyepin Im of Faith and Community Empowerment said.
All faith leaders, people look upon them with trust, they’re accessible and they’re free. In many ways, they are the first people that they go to.6
Facebook Partnering with CDC to Promote COVID Vaccine
COVID-19 Community Corp. members will receive weekly updates, fact sheets, talking points, social media recommendations, and information to help register individuals for appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine.7 HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will use Facebook as a tool to further promote vaccination by offering free profile picture frames encouraging vaccination to social media influencers and the general public.8
The leaders behind the COVID-19 Community Corp. are Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD; National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci, MD; COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Chair Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD.9
Individual states such as New Jersey are recruiting members of the public to be a part of this government partnership by suggesting that they will, “Shape and change the response of your community towards COVID-19 vaccination.”
The New Jersey COVID-19 Community Corp. plans to reach its mission of increasing public confidence in and the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities by training trusted community members who will bring the message to vulnerable populations such as minority groups, those with limited English language, and those with limited access to technology. They will also assist with the vaccination process.10
Faith Leaders Being Engaged Because People Trust Them More Than Politicians
Public surveys have shown that those who are hesitant to get the vaccine would be more likely to change their mind if encouraged by members of their community or their doctor rather than a politician. Confident that faith leaders will have a significant impact on convincing hesitant Americans to get the experimental vaccine, President Joe Biden said, “They’re going to listen to your words more than they are to me as president of the United States.”11
Bishop Edgar Vann, who has been a church pastor for 44 years in Detroit, Michigan was recruited by the city’s health department to encourage hesitant African American seniors to get vaccinated. Vann said:
I felt an obligation toward making sure that I would not only reach to my congregation but I would also reach beyond my congregation to a much broader influence that I have in the community.12
CDC to Spend $3 Billion to Convince Americans to Get COVID-19 Vaccine
The CDC has plans to spend $3 billion in support of community leaders’ outreach efforts and other groups encouraging vaccine confidence and uptake.13
HHS’ “We Can Do This” campaign has funded four new television ads promoting vaccination, spending approximately $25 million on an initial ad campaign targeting seniors, Latinos and African-Americans airing on African-American and Spanish-language media and news outlets.14 15 16
The Biden administration plans to commit a total of $10 billion dollars towards fighting vaccine inequities and encouraging confidence in the experimental COVID-19 vaccine.17 1,400 community health centers will receive the bulk of the money—$6 billion dollars—to expand their operational capacity, including increasing vaccination, testing and treatment for vulnerable populations, and providing health care services to populations at higher risk of serious health outcomes.
Three billion dollars will go to HHS for local efforts to decrease inequities in vaccine uptake in states, territories and cities. Community health worker services will receive $330 million to decrease inequities in testing, contact tracing and vaccine administration in vulnerable populations. The COVID-19 aid package passed by Congress—The American Rescue Plan—is the source for this vaccine promotion funding.18
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1 COVID-19 Public Education Campaign. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
3 Coleman J, Gangitano A. Biden administration unveils network of community leaders to urge COVID-19 vaccinations. The Hill Apr. 1, 2021.
10 New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub.
11 Foster R. Biden Administration Kicks Off Campaign to Boost Vaccinations. Medicine.net Apr. 2, 2021.
12 Clark D. The Biden administration says vaccine equity is a reality. One expert laughed. MSN May, 4, 2021.
13 Biden launches community corps to boost COVID vaccinations. 7News Boston Apr. 1, 2021.
14 Terkel A. Biden Team Launches Major Public Education Campaign Around COVID-19 Vaccinations. HuffPost Apr. 5, 2021.
15 Biden launches community corps to boost COVID vaccinations. CBS News Apr. 1, 2021.
16 Foster R. Biden Administration Kicks Off Campaign to Boost Vaccinations. Medicine.net Apr. 2, 2021.
17 Biden launches community corps to boost COVID vaccinations. 7News Boston Apr. 1, 2021.
18 Quinn M. Biden administration commits $10 billion to fight COVID vaccine inequities. CBS News Mar. 25, 2021.