“We’ve got a lot of work to do” on vaccine distribution, Biden says

A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida on September 9.
A health worker injects a person during clinical trials for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida on September 9. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services launched their national ad campaign promoting awareness about the forthcoming coronavirus vaccines with a modest $150,000 ad buy on YouTube.

The ads, which will stream across the platform, come from snippets of a public service announcement from October featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci. The ads will link to the full video that breaks down exactly how the vaccine works and includes FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on the approval process and why the vaccine will be safe. 

In the public service announcement, Fauci touts the importance of vaccines.

“One of the great triumphs of medical science in dealing with infectious diseases has been vaccinations. It has saved hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of people’s lives,” he says.

According to an administration official, HHS will be spending $250 million on a national education campaign and is planning for a much larger push using digital and social media to begin as early as next week to help “prepare the nation for the vaccine when it is available for public distribution through the states.” 

An HHS spokesperson said the work on the public health education campaign began last summer, when officials announced a controversial, $15 million celebrity-fueled ad campaign intended to “defeat despair” around coronavirus.

Democrats lambasted the idea as an effort to promote President Trump ahead of the election, and it was scuttled.

Following questions from Congress in October, HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified that he had “ordered a strategic review of this public health education campaign.”

The review was completed on Nov. 13.

According to an administration official, the government then canceled that contract and has since shifted strategy on their education campaign to a “science-based” approach and is working on a “new creative for vaccine acceptance- based on focus group, public surveys and secondary research.” 

Health care officials have raised concerns that there is not currently a national education or advertisement campaign in effect to help promote the vaccines safety, offer information and temper expectations. 

“For this administration, the vaccine has been the silver bullet. But, they aren’t explaining to people that they need to be patient,” one health care official in touch with Operation Warp Speed said. “What happens when mobs of people show up on December 15, demanding the vaccine? That’s why we need an education component.”

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