New York Times

Radio is in the media mix for a massive public education campaign designed to encourage hundreds of millions of Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine. As the long-awaited vaccine is administered to U.S. patients for the first time this week, the federal government is launching a $250 million public education campaign that will start this week in print, social media and radio, according to the New York Times. Television will be added when the vaccine becomes more widely available.

The new initiative, developed by Arlington, VA-based market research firm Fors Marsh Group under contract with the government, is focused on people who are hesitant to take the vaccine, but who can be persuaded to do so. The effort will take a science-based approach.

“I have advised my team that we recognize our operating environment is complicated, we have a public health mission, and we need to stay focused on that,” Mark Weber, the federal health official who is running the campaign, told The New York Times. He conceded that the campaign was battling “a credibility factor right now,” with distrust in the government running high and worries about the safety of a vaccine that was produced in record time and is now being rushed out to millions of Americans.

As trucks transporting the vaccine make their way to all 50 states, more than eight in 10 Americans say they would take the vaccine, with 40% saying they would take it as soon as it's available to them and 44% saying they would wait a bit before getting it, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News. Only 15% said they would refuse the vaccine entirely.

Being part of a paid media campaign isn’t the only way broadcasters are helping educate Americans about the biggest vaccination effort in U.S. history. To help determine the best way to educate the public about the vaccine – and what role local media can play in the process – the National Association of Broadcasters partnered last month with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) on a research project to identify effective COVID-19 vaccine education messaging. The findings will be used by local radio and television stations to craft public health messages and educational programming.