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Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories exploring all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us.

Changing People’s Hearts and Minds About Vaccinations

  Moving The Needle

The public health campaign to sell people on COVID-19 vaccinations is more than a year old, but its success is limited. The latest strain of the virus shows that unvaccinated people are significantly more likely to contract the omicron variant, resulting in higher rates of hospitalization and death.

This reality raises a question - why are people refusing the shots? What’s gone wrong with the public health message?

Early on the focus was on mass vaccinations, which convinced many millions of people. When the numbers stalled, it was time for incentives; get a shot, win a gift card or a car. In West Virginia, the campaign became, “Do it for Baby Dog,” using the governor’s English Bulldog as a mascot. But few of these efforts are swaying vaccine-resistant people.

So, what will work?

In this episode of Us & Them, we hear why vaccination campaigns were successful in the past, and the approach many experts say we need to start trying.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the Greater Kanawha Valley and the CRC Foundation.

This program is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 through the West Virginia Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and beyond. You also can listen to Us & Them on WVPB Radio — tune in Thursday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m., or listen to the encore presentation on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m.

Baby Dog on the State Seal
Gov. Jim Justice made his English Bulldog "Baby Dog" vaccine ambassador for the state of West Virginia.
Gov. Justice with Baby Dog
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice with his English Bulldog "Baby Dog."
Monica Ghandi
Christopher Michel
Physician and professor Dr. Monica Ghandi teaches medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is director of the UCSF Gladstone Center for AIDS Research and the medical director of the San Francisco General Hospital HIV Clinic.
Judith Feinberg
WVU Medicine
Judith Feinberg , M.D., professor in the department of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry at West Virginia University’s School of Medicine.
Lynne Fruth
Fruth Pharmacy
Lynne Fruth is President of Fruth Pharmacy, a West Virginia family business and one of the largest pharmacy chains in the state.
Ty Montague
co: collective
Ty Montague is one of the founders and co-CEOs of New York-based co:collective, a creative and strategic transformation partner for purpose led businesses. Previously, he has been Chief Creative officer at some of the most prestigious and awarded ad agencies in the world. Ad Age named him one of the 50 most influential creatives in advertising.
Ty Montague & Trey Kay
Riverside.FM/Trey Kay
Us & Them host Trey Kay in a video conference interview with Ty Montague.

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