To encourage vaccinations, Georgia county calls on moms
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On a weekday afternoon, this gastropub in Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, replaced its patrons with lights, cameras and a film crew.
“Let’s roll everybody, please!” the director called out.
“Rolling!” the crew, clad in black, replied in unison.
Normica Provitt was one of the stars of the shoot for a video featuring local moms encouraging people to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
“The makeup team makes you feel like you’re a rock star,” she said. “And coming from a momma with four kids who’s been stuck at home during COVID, it’s great.”
Governments and health agencies across the country are turning to public messaging campaigns to encourage people to get vaccinated. Health officials in this large, diverse county in metro Atlanta hope they have found a convincing messenger to boost lagging vaccination rates: moms.
Provitt said an uncle of hers died from the disease, and other family members got sick. The disruptions of the last year have also been hard for her kids.
All that motivated her to volunteer for the county’s ad campaign.
“It’s important as a wife and a mom and as a woman in Gwinnett to try to get some form of normal back,” Provitt said.
Getting normal back is a common theme in the half-hour video, in which four local moms, like Silvia King, answer questions.
“I would love for the community to know and understand how important it is to get vaccinated. We need our life back,” she said.
The county plans to use the video in email campaigns, on social media and in digital ads. It’s part of an ongoing, half-a-million-dollar public health campaign around COVID funded by the federal CARES Act.
It got involved in the vaccination campaign this year to supplement on-the-ground efforts to get shots in arms, such as mobile vaccine units.
“If we have a mobile unit that’s going into the communities, but people are hesitant about getting the vaccine, is that really successful?” asked Nicole Hendrickson, Gwinnett’s county commission chair.
There’s a good bit of vaccine hesitancy in the suburban county, Hendrickson said, and its vaccination rates trail national figures.
She said she hopes the right messengers — moms from different racial and ethnic backgrounds — can change that.
“We listen to our moms. Our moms are trusted,” Hendrickson said. “And so if we see our moms getting the vaccine, we’re going to be more compelled to get our vaccine.”
And there’s polling to back that up.
The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation said family members are some of the most trusted messengers about COVID-19 vaccines, right after health care providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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