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April 22, 2021

Virtua, Einstein health systems join national campaign urging Americans to get vaccinated

The initiative aims to educate hesitant people on the safety of COVID-19 shots and the need for herd immunity

Prevention Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccine campaign Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Albert Einstein Healthcare Network is among 60 health systems participating in a national campaign aimed at reducing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. '

Virtua Health and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network are among 60 health care systems participating in a nationwide initiative to encourage Americans to help bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic by getting vaccinated. 

The "Get the Vaccine to Save Lives" campaign is being rolled out as all adults are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. 

"So much of the pandemic created situations that were out of our control," said Chrisie Scott, Virtua's senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "Getting vaccinated, protecting ourselves and those around us from the complications of the virus, returning more quickly to the lives and the people we love – these things are within our control."

The multimedia campaign seeks to educate Americans on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines available and the need to reach herd immunity to bring the public health crisis to a close. It also will detail how the mRNA technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna shots triggers an immune response. 

The effort — which includes The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic — is aimed at adults who are hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including racial minority groups and people living in rural communities.

To engage with people, the initiative will use print and digital media advertisements, television and radio public service announcements and an interactive social media pledge.

"Doctors, nurses, and other health care workers are among the most trusted people in our community," said Dr. Reg Blaber, Virtua's executive vice president and chief clinical officer. "This campaign places them front and center and encourages people who are vaccine hesitant to speak with their care providers to discuss questions and concerns."

Virtua has administered more than 320,000 COVID-19 vaccines doses, mostly through the mega-site established at the Moorestown Mall in Burlington County. 

On Monday, all American adults became eligible to be inoculated, but vaccine hesitancy remains an issue across the country.

Roughly 17% of respondents to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey published last month said they would take a wait-and-see approach before getting the vaccine. Another 20% said they would not get vaccinated unless required by their employers, schools or other activities. 

A national survey conducted last month by NPR, the PBS NewsHour and Marist University found Republican men were the most likely to be hesitant. White men without college degrees and white evangelical Christians also among the most hesitant demographics. 

Vaccine hesitancy among Black people appears to have waned to the point that their overall hesitancy may be about the same as white people. 

In December, a national poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Black respondents were less likely than white respondents to get a COVID-19 vaccine. But in the NPR poll, only 25% of Black respondents said they would not get vaccinated — a lower figure than that 28% of white respondents who said the same. 

Vaccine hesitancy has remained a bit higher among Latinos, with 37% of respondents saying that they would not get vaccinated, the NPR poll showed. That's partly because they tend to be younger, and younger people have been less interested in being vaccinated, according to NPR.

Hesitant people have expressed concerns about possible side effects, safety issues, the fast development of the vaccines and a desire to learn more about their effectiveness.

Philadelphia has rolled out its own public campaign, dubbed "Let's Vax Up, Philly!" in neighborhoods where hesitancy is perceived to be highest.

The campaigns are being rolled out as demand for vaccines is down across the country.  

The seven-day average of daily COVID-19 vaccinations, about 3 million per day, dropped by 11% over the past week, according to the Washington Post. That marks the biggest drop since snowstorms briefly halted vaccine distribution in February. 

The declining demand has been observed in Philly too. The FEMA vaccination site in Center City has the capacity to inoculate 6,000 people per day, but it only vaccinated 3,500 people Monday and 9,000 people on Saturday and Sunday. 

About 218 million doses have been administered nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Nearly 90,000 people are fully vaccinated — about 27% of the eligible population. 

Pennsylvania has administered more than 7.5 million doses. Another 1.1 million have been administered in Philadelphia. New Jersey has administered more than 6.3 million doses. 

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