Immunization campaigns target communities of color, youth
A new municipal campaign aims to promote vaccination rates through bilingual video and photo ads. Meanwhile, community leaders say there is a need to continue focusing on immunizing people of color.
Journalist & Journalist & Contributor
Regina Sung, Staff Photographer
Recently, city officials created a public awareness campaign promoting immunizations for communities of color and youth.
The advertising campaign is a partnership between the New Haven Health Department, the Cultural Affairs Department and the New Haven Public Schools. The campaign, according to a September 2 town hall press release, involves “bilingual, digital, print and broadcast public service announcements that will appear on billboards, buses, radio, television, YouTube and other social media platforms ”.
At the center of the campaign are New Haven public school students, many of whom are athletes. According to Erik Patchkofsky, athletic director of New Haven Public Schools, athletes will be featured in campaign ads because they have a special incentive to encourage vaccination among young people.
“They believe that if all the student-athletes get vaccinated, it will help them all stay in the game,” he said.
The advertising campaign
To shoot the campaign, the city brought in two local artists: photographer Leigh Busby and videographer Donnell Durden. Busby described the campaign as his “best job yet” and said he had tried to tie the enthusiasm of his subjects to the importance of vaccinations.
“As I create the different billboards, I watch how people are going to view people on the billboard,” Busby said. “The thought that comes to my mind is, ‘What kind of emotions do we bring? “”
The Spanish versions of the photo and video ads feature NHPS student football players. In one video, a player who identifies as Kyle calls on viewers to make the most of the day by getting the shot. Another football player suggests that those with questions about the vaccine talk to their families.
“Back to the field. Get vaccinated, ”the advertisement told the public in Spanish.
In an English version, several students throw a basketball while imagining a post-pandemic future. “Do you want to take back your life?” One of them asks.
“Get the vaccine. We did it,” other students respond. The 30-second ad reminds viewers that the vaccine is free and includes a link for more information.
Tamiko Jackson-McArthur, a black pediatrician who also sits on the New Haven Board of Education, worked to create the campaign’s message. The campaign, she wrote in a press release, aims to “provide the information our BIPOC communities need to make the decision to get vaccinated.”
“Unfortunately, we know that we have a lot of underlying illnesses in BIPOC communities – high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, COPD, sickle cell disease – and we have multiple generations under one roof,” Jackson-McArthur wrote. “We need to trust science and be informed of our decision to get vaccinated against COVID-19. “
According to the state’s August 26 COVID update, residents of Latinx Connecticut were 60% more likely and black residents 44% more likely than white residents to have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic.
Doris Dumas, president of the New Haven chapter of the NAACP, echoed the need for more public health advocacy with communities of color. Although she touted the success of “Vaccinate Fair Haven!” campaign, she cited the increase in cases of the Delta variant as evidence of the importance of sustained vaccination efforts.
“Do I think we’re doing enough now?” ” she asked. “No, I think we should do more. Absoutely.”
Focus on young people
Last May, the campaign’s door-to-door campaign hit its initial target of canvassing in every house in Fair Haven. Since then, efforts have shifted to raising awareness for 12 to 17 year olds. Fair Haven Community Health Care continues to operate an on-site health center at Wilbur Cross High School, which serves many Fair Haveners.
Meanwhile, the State Department of Public Health and Griffin Health will partner from this week to host on-site vaccination clinics at all high schools in New Haven. NHPS teacher David Weinreb, who also organized the FHCHC vaccination campaign in May, explained that a new focus on adolescents could increase overall vaccination rates in Fair Haven.
“There are a lot of teenagers who are ready to be vaccinated, even if their parents are not ready. These families also need this link with the health services and the clinic, ”he said.
Cases of COVID-19 in children have recently increased in other states, coinciding with the reopening of schools. According to the NHPS COVID-19 Dashboard, there have been 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19 this school year, of which 54 people were not vaccinated and 10 were vaccinated.
The advertising campaign was funded by a $ 13 million state grant.