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COVID Collaborative Launches Vaccine Education Campaign

Harvard School of Public Health Dean Michelle A. Williams co-founded the COVID Collaborative alongside former Domestic Policy Council and USA Freedom Corps director John M. Bridgeland '82 and current World Health Organization Ambassador for Global Strategy Roy G. Chambers.
Harvard School of Public Health Dean Michelle A. Williams co-founded the COVID Collaborative alongside former Domestic Policy Council and USA Freedom Corps director John M. Bridgeland '82 and current World Health Organization Ambassador for Global Strategy Roy G. Chambers. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Virginia L. Ma, Crimson Staff Writer

The COVID Collaborative — a coalition of experts in health, education, and the economy — launched a $50 million vaccine education campaign with nonprofit advertising group the Ad Council on Nov. 23. The effort aims to inform Americans about COVID-19 vaccines and their benefits.

Harvard School of Public Health Dean Michelle A. Williams co-founded the Collaborative alongside former Domestic Policy Council and USA Freedom Corps director John M. Bridgeland ’82 and current World Health Organization Ambassador for Global Strategy Roy G. Chambers. Chambers is a member of the School of Public Health Communication Advisory Board.

Several other Harvard faculty members serve on the National Advisory Council to the Collaborative, including University Professor Danielle S. Allen, University Professor Paul E. Farmer, Former University Provost Harvey V. Fineberg ’67, and School of Public Health Associate Dean Jay A. Winsten.

With promising announcements from three major phase-three COVID-19 vaccine trials, federal, state, and local officials are now grappling with the challenges of nationwide vaccine distribution and convincing citizens to get vaccinated.

A recent survey conducted by the COVID Collaborative found that while 86 percent of Americans believe a vaccine will effectively curb the virus, only one-third of survey takers say they will get vaccinated themselves.

Among Black and Latinx communities, confidence in a vaccine is much lower. Only 14 percent of Black Americans and 34 percent of Latin Americans indicated in another poll that they trust the vaccine.

The vaccine education campaign will focus on addressing the mistrust, relying on a “diverse advisory group” to craft culturally relevant and appropriate messaging for all Americans, according to a Nov. 23 press release from the Collaborative.

“Vaccine messages are not only informed by the best science, but by representatives of historically marginalized communities to make sure the messages will resonate,” the press release reads.

In an Oct. 29 press release, Williams emphasized the importance of reaching out to people of color and building trust around COVID-19 vaccines.

“The current political climate has caused Americans across party lines — but especially in communities of color — to fear that the vaccine will not be safe,” Williams stated in the press release. “It is the job of Governors and the public health community to rebuild that trust and to assure the American people, with facts and science, that the vaccine they receive will help protect themselves and their loved ones and help them get their lives back.”

In addition to the vaccine education campaign, the Collaborative and the Ad Council partnered with the Infectious Diseases Society of America to launch a mask-wearing communications toolkit for state governors.

—Staff writer Virginia L. Ma can be reached at virginia.ma@thecrimson.com.

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