The college is partnering with the Iowa Public Health Association and Iowa Immunizes to push for more vaccinations in Iowa.
A program led by the University of Iowa has launched a mini-campaign to increase COVID-19 vaccination in mid-sized communities in Iowa.
The Rural Health Unemployment Insurance Prevention Research Center, the Iowa Public Health Association and Iowa Immunizes are collaborating on the “delta” campaign, which began on August 23.
The campaign targets micropolitan areas or places with between 10,000 and 50,000 inhabitants. The goal is to increase vaccination rates to prevent more infections with the delta variant.
College of Public Health assistant professor Natoshia Askelson, deputy director of the Center for UI Prevention Research, led the campaign’s development.
“These are places where there hasn’t been a lot of COVID mitigation in quite some time,” Askelson said. “Not a lot of mask wear, not a lot of social distancing, and these are places where vaccination rates are really low, so it made a lot of sense for us to get on board and try to figure out how we could support them. . “
The campaign uses graphics in social media posts, movie ads, newspapers and free newspapers in some communities in Iowa to encourage vaccination, Askelson said.
She said the campaign was sharing materials with local partners such as religious leaders, health facilities and youth groups, to spread the information more widely.
The centre’s program is one of the 26 prevention research centers located nationwide, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Askelson said the CDC offered UI additional funding to continue to influence an increase in immunization rates.
“We immediately said ‘yes’ because the communities we work in are called micropolitan communities,” Askelson said. “In Iowa, your Marshalltowns, your Fort Dodges, your Mason Citys, those mid-sized communities… that’s where we spend most of our time working.
Delta Campaign member Iowa Immunizes is a coalition of 46 organizations interested in increasing Iowa’s immunization rates.
Founded in the fall of 2019, the coalition focused earlier this year, moving from updating residents of Iowa on routine immunizations to bringing groups and organizations together that are striving to ” encourage vaccinations against COVID-19.
Elizabeth Faber, the Iowa Immunizes facilitator, said the campaign is just one of many methods to reach people statewide about the COVID-19 vaccination.
“This [campaign] is just a tool that can be something that someone sees, or sees multiple times, and makes them think, ”Faber said. “Of course, it won’t work for everyone, but neither method will work.”
The mini-campaign was aimed at bringing in those who “failed to get vaccinated,” Askelson said, rather than aiming to influence more Iowans hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
She said the belief that many of those who have failed to get vaccinated are “mobile” determined the campaign’s focus.
She added that people in this group are the ones who didn’t have negative thoughts about the vaccine, but simply pushed it away and found excuses not to get the vaccine yet.
To influence the members of the mobile group, graphic designer Patti O’Neill and other campaign members wanted to create graphics familiar to viewers and related to how viewers relate to each other. Themes of patriotism, images of flags and the incorporation of red and blue are prominent in these designs, she said.
O’Neill said she got involved in the campaign through her relationship with Askelson, with whom she previously worked on health communication at the IU College of Public Health. She said public health campaigns like these can have a big impact.
“I love these jobs,” O’Neill said. “There are a lot of smart people involved. We have these weekly Zoom meetings and I’m so impressed with how much people are doing for it. “