For the sake of public health awareness, Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone confronted the public with a pledge in the form of a social media campaign to #TakeYourShot.
“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine signals the ending of this pandemic, but it will only work if the majority of our residents participate,” Bellone said. “Getting vaccinated is not only critical to protecting the health and safety of our communities, but is vital in our continued economic recovery, and keeping our businesses and schools open.”
Suffolk County has selected a goal of 75 percent of eligible residents to sign this pledge, which equates to roughly 850,000 people. Bellone expressed that the vaccine is safe and effective and, thus, undoubtedly urges individuals to receive it once it becomes available to them.
According to Suffolk County, the educational and awareness aspect of the campaign is geared toward conveying the importance of receiving the vaccine, addressing any misinformation regarding the vaccine or general lack of trust toward vaccines, and to disseminate guidance regarding the vaccine. The county will mobilize and leverage resources from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Suffolk County Police Department, Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, the Office of Minority Affairs and Suffolk311 to engage directly with residents regarding the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.
Bellone explained that the social media campaign is for the public to endorse the vaccine through words, photos or short videos across various platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The county will leverage $50,000 in funding in order to undertake a paid advertising campaign to educate residents on the importance of inoculation. The paid campaign will incorporate digital radio advertisements featuring trusted health leaders, such as the county health commissioner, Dr. Gregson Pigott.
"Immunization is one of the greatest medical advances of modern times,” Pigott said. “We’ve used vaccines to entirely wipe out smallpox, and in the U.S. we’ve come extremely close to eradicating polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella and tetanus, among others. We are hopeful that Suffolk County residents will look to the successes of immunization and get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them.”
The campaign will also include social media ads and billboard signs.
The county will collaborate with a variety of outside organizations and stakeholders to reach targeted communities, especially communities with a minority populations.
“All people need to take this vaccine,” said Tracey Edwards, the Long Island regional director of the NAACP. “I understand the skepticism and the history, but all of us, collectively, have been through a lot. We need to do our research on the vaccine and do what we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. The best way we will be able to do that is by taking our shot.”
The various stakeholders, which will include the business community, faith-based organizations, health care providers, school districts and more, will work to educate and encourage their memberships and communities to get vaccinated. The county will work in partnership with these groups through various platforms including various social media, Zoom and other marketing tools to distribute information regarding the vaccine.