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Generation Vaxxed Discovers Importance of One-on-One Conversations with Vaccine Hesitant at End of Year One

Group of ten people standing in front of a Young Invincibles step and repeat

When Young Invincibles secured a two million dollar grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Community Catalyst for COVID-19 vaccine outreach, we knew why some young adults remained unvaccinated and recognized it as a growing public health crisis. Our listening tour launched this entire year of work. Out in young adults communities, we learned they remained unvaccinated due to the misinform circulating through the country. The concerns encompassed side effects, efficacy, infertility, and many other myths. While misinformation caused widespread hesitancy, altruism proved to be a powerful motivator for some to get vaccinated.

Armed with what we knew was causing vaccine hesitancy and what was encouraging others, we designed an outreach strategy meant to address misinformation and play into positive motivations. The strategy we designed brought together the best practices of other Young Invincibles work and some more inventive ways of outreach. Landing on the name Generation Vaxxed, our campaign was officially off the ground.

Communications: Messaging, Social Media, and Storytelling.

An outreach campaign starts with a message. Young Invincibles believes firmly in meeting young adults where they are, which also means the avenues they communicate through. We knew our key messages needed to work on a variety of digital and interpersonal interactions. There was no room to lose meaning via a change in platform. COVID-19 was and is a rapidly evolving situation, as such we tried to keep our main messaging adaptive in nature. Our number one priority was to always provide the correct information that allowed young adults to feel empowered in their decision when it came to vaccination.

  1. Phase one of our messaging played into the altruistic motivations we discovered through our initial listen tour. Some of our main points included:
    1. COVID-19 Vaccinations help us get closer to friends and family.
    2. Your health impacts your community’s health. Get vaccinated to keep everyone safe.
    3. Once vaccinated we are able to better protect the people we love, and be with them without endangering them.
  2. Phase two of our messaging shifted with the addition of new variants and breakthrough infections. We tested these messages in a focus group. Our main points included:
    1. The COVID–19 vaccine is your best defense against severe illness, hospitalization, long COVID-19, and death.
    2. Getting vaccinated is our best chance at keeping protecting our loved ones from severe illness or hospitalization caused by COVID-19.
    3. We also incorporated more personal anecdotes from our outreach specialists into this phase of messaging.

When it came to social media we found that young people received information better when it came from someone they could relate to; another young person. By sticking to the value of meeting young people where they are through social media trends we were able to level over 30 million impressions on young people across multiple digital mediums such as Tik Tok, Hulu, Instagram, Snapchat, and digital billboards. A strong component of our digital campaign was highlighting and elevating the amazing people volunteering and working on this campaign. We were able to bring young people across the country the correct information on COVID-19 vaccines and many other areas this pandemic impacted young adults.

Delivering the Message on the Ground Through Outreach Efforts.

Jennifer Cardenas, a Latinx woman, sitting in the car holding up Generation Vaxxed fact sheets with information about COVID-19.

Young Invincibles ensures it meets young adults where they are at. The outreach efforts of our Generation Vaxxed campaign were no different. We want to ensure all of our events created a welcoming space where people could share their vaccine hesitations openly without judgment. From here we knew once the conversation began we could provide the correct information and empower people to feel confident to make informed decisions about their health. To create these welcoming environments we used strategic messaging, community partnerships, cultural connections, and fun ideas. The ultimate goal was to start one-on-one conversations where we could start addressing hesitancies.

As Jennifer Cardenas, our California Outreach Specialists puts it, “Attending events centered around cultural celebrations has made it possible to connect with young adults.” Jennifer knew the importance of connecting underserved communities with COVID-19 resources through cultural events with community leaders.

These strategies produced the one-on-one conversations we wanted. For example, at a Valentine’s Day Distribution event she explained not needing insurance to a father, who then decided to get him and his children vaccinated on the spot at the vaccine clinic onsite.

Photo of Simone White, artist of "Together We Find Our Way" at Young Invincibles' Colorado Generation Vaxxed Art Event.These types of hesitancy stories were found all over the country. Jourdyn, our Texas Outreach Specialist, recalls, “At the MLK festival, a young Black woman came up to me with hesitations about the vaccine. As another young Black woman, I reassured her that the vaccine is completely safe for us. I let her know that vaccines were available on site and she should get one. She asked if she could have my Instagram because we had things in common. She messaged towards the end of the festival asking if I was still there because she wanted to get vaccinated.”

Fun/attractive events were also a strong strategy for creating that welcoming atmosphere for young adults. Our New York outreach team partnered with NYC Fair Trade Coalition, a sustainable fashion organization, and held a sneaker swap for the local communities. Participants were able to bring sneakers and trade with each other. At the event we had a vaccine clinic and COVID-19/health resources available to participants. Sometimes all it took was providing easy access to the vaccine and a fun event to bring young adults together.

Photo of Jocelyn Bravo and another volunteer, at an event in Chicago next to a COVID-19 vaccine check-in sign

Fun events created a space attractive to young adults but we also wanted them to have the opportunity to express themselves without judgment. Our Colorado team created an amazing event to do just that. They held an art competition themed around the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccination. Local artists from the Denver-area submitted pieces themed around the pandemic, allowing them to express their concerns and frustrations. Then the pieces were voted on by young adults in the surrounding area.

Another critical component of this outreach work was providing general resources to many of the underserved communities we were contacting. Jocelyn Bravo, our Illinois Outreach Specialist, made it a point to include pamphlets on job, community mental health, legal, and health insurance resources available to these communities. Jocelyn demonstrates the intersectionality of Generation Vaxxed’s work when it came to COVID-19 vaccine outreach.

Generation Vaxxed is Proud to Report Strong Metrics at the End of Year One.

All the work Generation Vaxxed has accomplished is also backed up with strong final metrics as year one comes to a close. Across the board the reporting numbers from social media, earned-media, and on the ground are all impressive.

Group of five people wearing Generation Vaxxed shirts

On Social Media advertising we are happy to report:

  • Reached over five million through ads on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Made over 7.9 million impressions through ads on Snapchat.
  • Reached over 1.5 million in ads on Hulu.
  • Made over 1.5 million impressions on Youtube.
  • In total we made over 30 million impressions online.

Through Earned Media we are happy to report:

  • $60,000 in earned publicity value.
  • 1.3 million reached through local print and TV.
  • 11 TV hits across our five states.
  • 21 print hits across our five states.
  • A Generation Vaxxed Story and Staff feature in all of our key states.