Data-driven Public Awareness Campaign Aims to Encourage Vaccination and Combat Reluctance
Maywood, IL – Barber Lonnie Hodges doesn’t want to see any more suffering in his family or in his community of Jackson Park. Cicero mom Diana Hernandez longs for her sons to have a “normal” childhood again. Registered nurse Mia Webster-Cross of Harvey simply wants to go back to church.
Those are a few of the reasons given by Cook County residents for why they will get the COVID-19 vaccine, which are captured in a new public awareness campaign launched today called “My Shot.”
A collaboration of Cook County Government, Cook County Health and the Cook County Department of Public Health, the $1.2 million campaign is data-driven and rooted in the principles of equity to encourage people who may be reluctant to get vaccinated, especially among the county’s most vulnerable communities.
“I’ve heard vaccine reluctance from residents across Cook County and understand why people are unsure. This campaign speaks directly to you,” said Toni Preckwinkle, President, Cook County Board of Commissioners. “Like the featured individuals who shared their stories, everyone can identify at least one motivating reason that may inspire them to learn more and make the choice to get vaccinated. I’ve been vaccinated because it is safe, it protects us from this devastating virus and it’s our best path forward.”
The campaign will reach Cook County residents, specifically those who reside in communities that rank high on the Social Vulnerability Index or have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, in both English and Spanish through bus shelters, billboards, radio, digital, video, print and social media. The campaign website, myshotcookcounty.com, features vaccine FAQs and resources, as well as a toolkit with graphics and posts for community groups to share. This public education effort will be reimbursed by the federal government like other COVID-19 costs.
“Just as we are bringing the vaccine into areas that have been most impacted by coronavirus, this campaign is hyper-targeted to reach our most vulnerable populations,” said Israel Rocha, CEO, Cook County Health. “Essential in this stage of the fight against COVID-19 is this proactive effort to encourage vaccination.”
The campaign was informed by a survey of 1,100 Cook County residents conducted by Market Probe, which found that 32% of all Cook County adults are hesitant about the vaccine with almost half (46%) of African Americans saying they probably will not, definitely will not or are not sure if they will get the vaccine.
The most hesitant age group were Cook County residents ages 18-34. Health, protection and family were the top reasons given for wanting the vaccine, while concerns about side effects were volunteered most often as the reason not to get vaccinated.
“We know there is a lot of information circulating about the vaccine, but we hope this campaign will give Cook County residents the accurate information they need to make the choice to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, Co-Lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health. “You may not yet be eligible, but we implore everyone to take the shot when it’s their turn – your community is counting on you.”
The campaign is part of a larger joint effort to ensure equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in Cook County. Cook County Health opened the county’s first large-scale vaccination site on January 26 at the Tinley Park Convention Center, followed by sites at Triton College, South Suburban College and a location at 1155 E. Oakton St. in Des Plaines. Additionally targeted locations and pop-up sites seek to reach priority populations like seniors, teachers and first responders have also been opened.
In addition to the Cook County Health sites, the Cook County Department of Public Health has distributed vaccines to more than 145 partner locations including Jewel-Osco, Mariano’s and Walgreens along with Federally Qualified Health Centers and hospitals. A complete listing of these sites can be found at www.cookcountypublichealth.org.
Residents not yet eligible for the vaccine are encouraged to sign up at vaccine.cookcounty.il.gov to receive updates on the vaccine, notification when they are eligible to receive their vaccine, and information on vaccine distribution locations throughout Cook County.