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  • Caroline Handlin

Are PSA’s the Key to Encouraging Covid-19 Vaccinations?

This week, the Ad Council is rolling out its new “It’s Up to You” campaign, an emotional PSA series aimed at encouraging Americans to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. The Washington Post is calling the campaign “one of the largest public education efforts in U.S. history”. The campaign is set to be released over various platforms, including listening services like Spotify, social media accounts, and television. Consulted by the Center of Disease Control, the “It’s Up to You” campaign targets the estimated 1 in 3 Americans who say “they definitely would not or probably would not get the coronavirus vaccine” (The Washington Post). Given the recent spike in Covid-19 variant cases, it’s not a surprise that the Ad Council and public health committees alike are using advertising PSA’s to try and encourage vaccinations, but let’s take a look and see if PSA’s actually have the influence to spark change.

PSA’s are defined as short informational clips designed to raise awareness about an important issue. These public service announcements have been around since as early as the 1940’s, when the United States sought to remind people of the ongoing war through commercial advertising spots. Now a common element of advertising, PSA’s have been used to tackle large societal issues ranging anywhere from environmental concerns to teen drug use, and the statistics show that they do this pretty effectively too. In fact, “last year, a teen alcoholism campaign for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence drew more than 76,000 calls to an 800 number that provided information and referrals to local centers” (

The topic of the Covid-19 vaccine has been very divisive to the American people. You have one group of the population urging everyone to get vaccinated in efforts to protect those around them, and another group that vehemently refuses the vaccine as they believe it infringes on their personal beliefs or their right to individual choice. No matter which side of the spectrum you fall on, it will be interesting to see how PSA’s like the “It’s Up to You” campaign will be received by the public over such a controversial issue.


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