HHS renews 'call to action' with Covid booster ad spots
“Where’s Juan?” a soccer player asks while nervously eyeing the goal. “Covid, again,” a teammate responds while holding up a text message. The referee blows the whistle.
That’s the introduction to one of the Department of Health and Human Services’ latest Covid-19 ads designed to convince those who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic to roll up their sleeves for updated vaccines. The ad, titled “Don’t Miss the Game,” aired on Oct. 24 as part of HHS’ broader “We Can Do This” campaign.
“If you are Latino, you have a higher risk of getting infected, being hospitalized and dying from Covid,” a narrator states. “Don’t miss the game. Get an updated Covid vaccine today.”
HHS’ first “We Can Do This” TV ads debuted back in April 2021, with the goal of encouraging the public to get vaccinated as soon as they became eligible. The ads launched in both English and Spanish, and HHS focused in particular on outreach to “hard-hit” groups, including Black, Spanish, Asian Pacific and tribal communities.
“Importantly, the ads will emphasize a message – We Can Do This – that is a hopeful and unifying call to action that we each can do our part to end this pandemic by getting vaccinated,” HHS announced in 2021.
A year and a half later, the health agency is renewing that call to action, specifically for updated Omicron-specific boosters developed by Moderna and its rivals Pfizer and BioNTech. Two new ads were released last week, including “Don’t Miss the Game” and “On Point,” which features a Black narrator who is “always on point” when it comes to his hair, style, yard and Covid immunizations.
“Let’s be real, I can’t be at my best if my health is slacking,” he says. “I stay up to date so I can stay on point for the ones I love.”
While about 68.4% of people in the US have completed their primary series vaccines, only 7.3% of those eligible — or about 22.8 million people — have received a bivalent booster, according to the CDC’s vaccine tracker.
HHS’ campaign specifically targets those who are vaccine-hesitant and those who are disproportionately affected, as well as high-risk populations. Despite being some of the hardest hit communities, Black and Hispanic or Latino Americans represent only about 10% and just under 20% of those who’ve completed their primary series, respectively.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said on a White House press call in September that solid uptake of the updated shots in early fall could prevent 9,000 deaths and save the country billions of dollars in medical costs. Updated shots include an mRNA component of the original coronavirus strain and also an mRNA component from the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages.
HHS’ last campaign push, released in September, targeted at-risk adults over the age of 50. The video featured older adults facing the camera, as words flash across the screen: “9 out of 10 Covid deaths were people over 50. Vaccines lower the risk of death. So get your updated Covid vaccine. Now. It could save your life.”