“What if they gave a war and nobody came” was a popular mantra of the anti-war movement of the 1960s.
Adopted from a 1939 Carl Sandberg poem, that slogan can be updated for the age of COVID-19: “What if they developed a vaccine and nobody took it?”
The scientific teams at Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca deserve all the credit in the world for developing COVID-19 vaccines in record time, yet the public is hardly cheering their incredible achievement.
Despite the devastation of COVID-19 (more than 260K deaths and 12.5M infections,) only 53 percent of Americans plan to get the vaccine once it is available, according to a Morning Consult poll.
The anti-science Trump administration, which framed the pandemic as “fake news,” is why only 46 percent of Republicans (vs. 65 percent of Democrats) are going to take the vaccine.
PR can be the difference-maker and the second most effective weapon against the virus.
Team Trump had concocted a hairbrained scheme to launch a $250M “don’t let COVID-19 get you down” propaganda push to boost America’s spirits and his re-election efforts. That went nowhere.
The Biden White House should bankroll a communications push to encourage Americans to take the vaccine.
The public would be receptive to a Team Biden pitch. A Morning Consult poll says 55 percent of Americans trust Biden more than Trump (33 percent) when it comes to handling the COVID-19 crisis.
Biden introduced his COVID-19 task force on Nov. 9. “Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” he said.
In his Nov. 25 Thanksgiving address, he rallied Americans to meet the challenges ahead as the country faces a long hard winter due to the pandemic.
Trump downplayed, mocked and ridiculed the recommendations of his COVID-19 task force. He boycotted the meetings, last attending one five months ago.
Dr. Scott Atlas, the president's top medical advisor on the pandemic, has not attended a task force meeting since September. Atlas prefers to spread off-the-wall statements and misinformation about COVID-19 on Fox News.
The federal government stands ready to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.
Operation Warp Speed claims it will be able to deliver 6.4M doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine as early as next month once the treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
That program plans to increase distribution capacity next year as manufacturing capacity for the vaccine scales up.
It will be up to PR to persuade American to take their COVID-19 shots.