Now that vaccinating teens for COVID-19 is all the rage, state health officials are promoting a new public relations campaign geared toward teens that’s meant to make the shots more appealing to 12 to 19- year-olds across the state.
As part of that effort, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has launched “TeenVaxFacts.com” – a website targeted toward that age group. The site provides information, tools and resources in a language and tone meant to educate teens about the reasons to get the COVID-19 vaccines, and, in turn, to help them educate their friends and family about it.
The TeenVaxFacts initiative went live in late August after state health officials realized that teens eligible for getting vaccinated might more likely be swayed by reasons other than the reasons state health officials have been giving adults ever since the vaccines became available.
According to health officials, “TeenVaxFacts.com sends a clear, fact-based message to teens and parents: Don’t wait to vaccinate.”
In one section of the teen-friendly site, there’s a back-and-forth series of messages presented in a style that looks like two people are texting– no doubt because, well, for the most part, teens do pay attention to texts more than anything else in the world.
Here’s just one typical exchange: One devil’s advocate-like text states, “Well, you’re young and healthy. Even if you get COVID-19, you’ll be fine.”
The responding texter replies: “Even if I have a mild case of COVID-19, I don’t know how sick I’ll get. I may struggle with long-term effects like shortness of breath, chest pain—and brain fog. And I don’t want to get you sick, either!”
The texts conversations are accompanied by appropriate emojis.
Whereas the state’s general public campaign for adults has been, basically, “Get the vaccine to stay alive,” the message to teens is that they should do so largely for the sake of others.
Here’s one message the state wants to get across: “Young people are getting the virus, just like everyone else. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, stop the spread of COVID-19, protect your family, and safely hang out with your friend.”
Information on the teen-friendly COVID-19 website states that millions of teens have already been vaccinated and serious side effects from those vaccines have been extremely rare.
The page is also duplicated in Spanish for those who speak Spanish as a first or only language.
As with the advertising campaign geared toward adults, the NCDHHS stresses that the COVID-19 vaccines “have been thoroughly tested and found to be safe and effective.”
Right now, teens ages 12 to 17 can get the Pfizer vaccine, so the site shows them how to find the vaccinations sites providing the Pfizer vaccine at MySpot.nc.gov. (Anyone 18 and older can get the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine.)