CDC Resets Flu Shot Messaging
ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a new public relations campaign aimed at resetting public expectations around the influenza vaccine and clearing up long-standing misapprehensions about the shot.
The new campaign, called “Wild to Mild,” was created based on suggestions garnered from focus groups that met in June and July.
After a “soft launch” in August, the campaign got fully underway last week.
During a meeting with a panel of vaccine advisers on Friday, Sara Dodge Ramey, who is with the CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response, said the new campaign is an acknowledgement that people have mixed feelings about vaccines.
“Some were adamant about getting all recommended vaccines. Some believed they were ineffective or unnecessary, with most landing in the middle of the two extremes,” she said.
The focus groups also revealed a strong level of fatigue around traditional vaccine messaging, especially messaging they perceived as relying on scare tactics.
The revamped approach to promoting flu shots comes as federal health officials prepare for the annual bump in infections that typically accompany the colder months.
The intent of the Wild to Mild campaign is to reset public expectations around what a flu vaccine can do in the event that it does not entirely prevent illness.
“Participants found this information useful and even motivational in consumer testing. For pregnant people, the information about how vaccination during pregnancy could not only protect the pregnant person but also their baby for several months after birth was particularly persuasive,” the agency said in a press release.
The campaign is part of an annual educational effort to encourage vaccination among Americans, including among people who are at higher risk of serious flu complications.
A separate campaign, “Get My Flu Shot,” which is a collaboration between the CDC, American Medical Association, and the Ad Council, focuses on trying to reduce long-standing disparities in flu vaccine coverage among Black and Hispanic Americans.
The Wild to Mild campaign is mainly digital and will include social media content, micro-influencer partnerships, and paid placement of educational ads in various online channels and radio spots.