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Ad Council announces $50M plan to promote COVID-19 vaccinations

Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The Ad Council has announced it plans to launch "one of the largest public education campaigns in history" in an effort to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The public service communications non-profit said Monday it was launching the $50 million campaign in partnership with the COVID Collaborative, a group of leading experts in health, education and the economy.

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"Widespread adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine is our generation's 'moonshot' and will represent one of the largest public health interventions in our nation's history," Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman said in a statement. "By bringing together the worlds of communications, public health and policy, we can transform life as we know it today and save hundreds of thousands of lives."

The announcement came as AstraZeneca announced its COVID-19 vaccine candidate had shown "positive high-level results" against the coronavirus, becoming the third pharmaceutical in the past few weeks to announce positive efficacy results. Dr. Moncef Slaoui of the White House vaccine effort, Operation Warp Speed, has also said that a vaccine could be ready as soon as early December.

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However, a recent survey from the COVID Collaborative found that while 86% of Americans believe a vaccine will be effective in curbing the virus, only 35% said they will "definitely get a COVID-19 vaccine" while 61% reported they would "wait and see what happens."

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A second study released Monday by the COVID Collaborative, the NAACP and UnidosUS found that 15% of Black Americans and 34% of Latinx Americans trust that the vaccine will be safe while more than 75% of both groups said confidence in the vaccine's safety is important to their decision to be vaccinated.

"COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting Black Americans, and generational trauma has led to massive distrust of vaccines," NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement supporting the Ad Council Campaign.

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"The national education campaign will be a critical step in providing Black communities with the information they need to rebuild trust and get vaccinated," he said.

The Ad Council, which is known for its iconic Smoky Bear anti-forest fire and Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk campaigns, said the first phase of its messaging is currently in development with plans to be rolled out in early 2021.

It said it will focus on identifying and addressing misconceptions and concerns about vaccine safety and effectiveness, uniting trusted messengers and influential voices and tailoring communications to reach diverse audiences.

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The messages will also reinforce the importance of wearing face masks as vaccines are distributed, it said.

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"Through transformational initiatives like the vaccine education campaign, we can turn the tide on the pandemic and put the nation on a path toward a safer, stronger and more prosperous America," John Bridgeland, CEO and co-founder of COVID Collaborative, said in a statement.

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