As coronavirus cases in the US rise and large numbers of people once again face lockdowns, the Ad Council, America’s non-profit marketing group, is looking to a brighter future as the world edges towards vaccines being readily available for all.

With polls showing that more than 40% of Americans are still sceptical about potential vaccines, and with a recent slew of positive news on the vaccine front, the Council’s task of persuading Americans to get a jab and protect themselves and others has taken on an added urgency.

Next week it is set to announce what it describes as one of the largest public education campaigns in history, The New York Times reports – a $50 million blitz of public service announcements across multiple media platforms that will be rolled out next year when COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be available.

Its efforts are reminiscent of a similar Council campaign in the 1950s when it urged people to vaccinate against polio. In the past, federal government has been involved with the Ad Council’s public health campaigns, but so far it is not involved in this latest effort.

“Frankly, this is the biggest public health crisis we’ve ever faced, and we don’t have time to waste,” Lisa Sherman, the Ad Council’s chief executive told the NYT. “We’re working in advance, so that once those vaccines are proven to be safe and approved by all the right people, we’re ready to go.”

Although a recent Gallup poll found that 58% of American adults say they would be prepared to have an approved vaccine, this is a relatively small take-up compared other countries. Separately, an Ipsos and the World Economic Forum found that 85% of Chinese adults, 79% of British, and 76% of Canadian adults said they planned to be vaccinated when a jab was ready, but only 64% of Americans agreed.

The Ad Council has partnered with a team of experts known as the Covid Collaborative, which carried out its own research that showed the proportion of US citizens willing to vaccinate could be as low as a third. Alarmingly, the Collaborative found that among Black Americans, under 20% believed a vaccine would be safe and effective.

The scepticism appears to have been fuelled by the recent surge in the 'anti-vax' messaging of certain groups in the US and elsewhere.

Steve Danehy, a Pfizer spokesman, told the NYT that “public education around the need for vaccination, as well as the rigorous process by which the vaccines have been developed, is critical”.

Sourced from The New York Times, Ipsos