YouTube launches PSAs encouraging Americans to get vaccinated

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YouTube is launching a series of COVID-19 vaccine public service announcements, calling it the “first chapter” of a partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Vaccine Confidence Project. The ads will start running in the US today and roll out internationally in coming weeks, coinciding with local vaccine availability.

YouTube posted a dozen 16-second videos on the company’s channel, as well as two 31-second clips (one in English, one in Spanish) and a longer compilation stringing them together. The messages encourage people to “get back to what you love” by getting the vaccine, offering reasons like “because birthday songs,” “because roller coasters,” “because wedding receptions,” and “because everything.” YouTube says they’ll run across its platform — as well as television, radio, and paid social posts — through July, aiming to reach Americans between the ages of 18 to 34.

All US adults are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and half the adult population has received at least one dose. But vaccination rates have slowed markedly in the past weeks. The slowdown coincided with a now-lifted pause on the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, but it may also reflect the need to make vaccination easier and more attractive for people who weren’t in the first rush of dedicated vaccine hunters.

YouTube says its campaign is aimed at “making sure that people have access to reliable information about the vaccine, including how it was developed and tested, what they can expect when they get the vaccine, and how every person plays a part in the public’s health.” Its blog directs people to earlier vaccine-focused videos with health experts, but the new videos primarily focus on vaccines’ potential to restore “a more normal way of life.”

Social networks, including YouTube, have spent recent years reactively addressing anti-vaccination content on their platforms. As COVID-19 vaccines have begun rolling out in the US, the Biden administration has encouraged the platforms to promote news about the shots. Facebook added state-level vaccine information to its News Feed earlier this month, and Twitter recently added a prompt with info from the World Health Organization and other public health agencies.

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