In September 2021, incidence rates of COVID-19 in rural America were roughly 54% higher than anywhere else in the country according to the Rural Policy Research Institute. As the pandemic continues to have an outsized impact in rural areas, COVID Collaborative is leading a vaccination education campaign to reach the tens of millions of Americans in these communities who are still questioning whether or not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A nationwide response must reach every part of the country, and we are eager to help engage more Americans to get answers to their questions about the vaccines.
COVID Collaborative is working with multiple partners on the ground to increase vaccination rates in five states — Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Florida and Minnesota — in areas with low vaccination rates. Additionally, COVID Collaborative has partnered with Ad Council and trusted rural voices like the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Cooperative Extension System, and others to release new PSAs that feature and speak to rural Americans from across the country.
Rural Vaccine Education PSAs
OCTOBER 19, 2021 | PRESS RELEASE
Rural Americans Share Personal Stories to Inspire Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines in Local Communities and Nationwide
New PSAs from the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative Speak to Those Still Hesitant About Vaccination Across Rural Communities
NEW YORK, Oct. 19, 2021 - In September 2021, incidence rates of COVID-19 in rural America were roughly 54% higher than elsewhere in the country according to the Rural Policy Research Institute. As this disparity and rates of vaccine hesitancy continue, the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative partnered with trusted rural voices like the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Cooperative Extension System and others to release new PSAs today that feature and speak to rural Americans from across the country. The PSAs showcase the firsthand impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines for seven individuals and families, encouraging Americans who may still be questioning the vaccines to seek the latest accurate information about getting vaccinated.
"With the disproportionate impact of the pandemic in rural areas across the country, it's critically important that Americans in rural communities hear these powerful stories from each other, their neighbors," said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. "We're grateful to these individuals and their families for sharing their powerful and poignant stories. Our aim is to uplift their voices, meet rural Americans where they are, and let these experiences inspire millions more to feel confident in the vaccines."
Research from the Rural Policy Research Institute showed that rural counties had higher rates of COVID-19 than their urban counterparts in 39 states this September. However, large groups among the rural population who remain undecided about vaccination continue to have concerns about long-term side effects of the vaccines (73.7%) and doubts about the efficacy of vaccination (69.6%) due to new breakthrough cases, according to recent Ad Council research. Recent CDC data reveals that 35% of rural Americans are unvaccinated, which is a vaccination rate 10 percentage points lower than their urban and suburban counterparts.
"I shared openly about getting COVID last year and about getting vaccinated--not wanting to meet with that virus again. I appreciate the many other farmers, ranchers and rural neighbors who are sharing their journeys, too, including those in these new PSAs," said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "Farmers and ranchers are stronger together, and that especially goes for getting ahold of the pandemic. You can't go wrong in seeking out information about your COVID-19 vaccination options from a trusted source, like your doctor, and we're proud to be a part of empowering Americans to make that choice."
The PSAs highlight experiences from a wide variety of individuals, including family pharmacists in Texas, a football coach in North Carolina, newlyweds in Mississippi, family farmers in Kansas and Georgia, a lifelong cowboy in Texas and a self-proclaimed "sports mom" in Georgia. The breadth of identities represented in the PSAs, and found across rural America, contribute to the relatable, compelling nature of each story. Whether motivated by their families, faith, communities or other perspectives, the participants open up about the diverse factors that went into their decisions to get educated about the COVID-19 vaccines, and ultimately get vaccinated themselves.
"As the pandemic continues to have an outsized impact in rural areas, our vaccination education campaign will redouble its efforts to reach the tens of millions of Americans in these communities who are still questioning whether or not to get vaccinated against COVID-19," said John Bridgeland, Co-Founder and CEO of the COVID Collaborative. "A nationwide response must reach every part of the country and we're eager to help engage more Americans to get answers to their questions about the vaccines."
In collaboration with the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Cooperative Extension System, the PSAs will be distributed nationally with a specific focus on rural areas in the South and Midwest.
The full series of seven stories can be viewed here on YouTube.
"We are grateful to partner with the Ad Council in ensuring that rural residents have the right tools and information to make an informed decision about the COVID-19 vaccines," said Ron Yee, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the National Association of Community Health Centers.
Major media partners and industry trade associations, including Facebook, FOX, Google/YouTube, National Association of Broadcasters, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Radio Advertising Bureau, Television Bureau of Advertising among others have committed to providing significant donated media time and space to run and amplify the new PSA assets. What If Media Group will also continue to provide support by sending vaccine messaging via email to unvaccinated people living in rural communities. Per the Ad Council's model, the TV and digital creative will be distributed in the United States where it will run in donated media.
Deborah Riley Draper, Founder of Coffee Bluff Pictures and a Georgia local herself, directed the PSAs. Most recently, she worked with the Ad Council on the Tuskegee Legacy Series in partnership with descendants of the men involved in the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee. Draper is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed filmmaker, author, motivational speaker, and advertising agency veteran. She was named to Variety Magazine's "2016 Top 10 Documakers to Watch" list, and is a member of the Film Fatales and a Facebook SEEN Program alum and mentor.
The new content is part of the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative's COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, "It's Up To You." The overarching creative platform was developed by Pereira O'Dell, with additional campaign assets created by JOY Collective, Alma, Saatchi & Saatchi, Deutsch LA, Group SJR, and other partners to ensure the American public has the latest and most accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. To date, the campaign has received $200M in media support and related publicity across all channels, with at least 75% of Americans eligible for the vaccine having seen "It's Up To You" ads and driving over 9 million sessions to GetVaccineAnswers.org. Of those who visit GetVaccineAnswers.org with concerns, nearly 60% left feeling more confident about getting vaccinated.
Leading contributors to date include Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, Cisco, Comcast NBCUniversal, CVS Health, Facebook, General Motors, Google and YouTube, The Humana Foundation, Reckitt, Salesforce, Verizon, Walgreens and Walmart. Significant contributions have also been provided by Adobe, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, BNY Mellon, Budweiser/Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Business Roundtable, Caterpillar Foundation, Citi, Ford Motor Company, Honeywell, JPMorgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, Mastercard, the New York Life Foundation, Stanley Black & Decker, Synchrony, Target, Unilever, Wells Fargo and ViacomCBS.
The Ad Council
The Ad Council has a long history of creating life-saving public service communications in times of national crisis, starting in the organization's earliest days during World War II to September 11th and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. Its deep relationships with media outlets, the creative community, issue experts and government leaders make the organization uniquely poised to quickly distribute life-saving information to millions of Americans.
The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation's most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels.
The Ad Council is a nonpartisan, nondenominational organization, engaging a diverse range of communities, including the faith community, to impact society for good. The organization's innovative social good campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.org, follow the Ad Council's communities on Facebook and Twitter and view the creative on YouTube.
COVID Collaborative is a national assembly of experts, leaders and institutions in health, education and the economy and associations representing the diversity of the country to turn the tide on the pandemic by supporting federal, state and local COVID-19 response efforts.
The COVID Collaborative is co-chaired by former Governor and U.S. Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) and former Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) and led by Co-Founder and CEO John Bridgeland and President Gary Edson. COVID Collaborative includes expertise from across Republican and Democratic administrations at the federal, state and local levels, including former FDA commissioners, CDC directors, and U.S. surgeon generals; former U.S. secretaries of Education, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services; leading public health experts and institutions that span the country; the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the NAACP, UnidosUS and the National Congress of American Indians; the Skoll Foundation, The Allstate Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation; and associations representing those on the front lines, from the American Public Health Association and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials to the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools.
JUNE 3, 2021 | PRESS RELEASE
Coalition of Leading Organizations Launch United Effort to Drive Vaccine Uptake in Rural America
Effort To Be Announced Today at National Rural Business Summit on COVID-19 Vaccinations, Featuring Keynote Speaker U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
An ambitious and first of its kind effort to increase vaccine usage among rural Americans against COVID-19 was announced today that draws from all sectors of smalltown America in a coordinated push. Representing one of the largest public vaccine education efforts in rural America, the COVID Collaborative, Health Action Alliance, Ad Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, Center for Rural Strategies, Rural America Chamber of Commerce, National League of Cities, the Daily Yonder, National Rural Health Association, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust are joining forces to roll out the concentrated education effort.
The initiative comes as the White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states and local governments prioritize the next 30 days to reach a national goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one vaccine dose by Independence Day. The “Month of Action” will be supported by these efforts to reach rural Americans.
While 56% of rural residents report having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, rural America still lags the rest of the country in the proportion of eligible residents vaccinated, according to recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
A key goal is to support rural community leaders and businesses as they engage with their residents in vaccine conversations. The effort includes the development of a resource library for rural vaccine uptake information, led by the National Rural Health Association, including conversation starter resources, and public service announcements developed in partnership with the Ad Council. These new resources will help rural employers, small business owners and public sector employers share vaccine facts and improve access to vaccinations for employees and their families.
The resources will be announced today at a National Rural Business Summit on COVID-19 vaccines, focused on the unique needs and opportunities in rural areas and small cities to drive vaccination rates. The event will feature keynote remarks from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, White House Vaccinations Coordinator Dr. Bachara Choucair and former Governor and U.S. Senator Dirk Kempthorne, Co-Chair of the COVID Collaborative. The event will be produced by Health Action Alliance, a joint initiative of the Ad Council, the Business Roundtable, the CDC Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—in partnership with Meteorite.
Also to be announced is a new partnership with Small Business Majority to expand outreach to and education for small business owners across the rural south and midwest, led by HAA and COVID Collaborative. And, in partnership with The Daily Yonder, HAA will launch today a new reporting partnership to expand on-the-ground coverage of COVID-19 and vaccines, with perspectives from rural businesses.
Rural America is not homogenous, and these organizations have the diverse and necessary expertise to develop and disseminate the right messages to rural communities to move the needle on vaccination rates. Combined efforts aim to reach audiences through the healthcare and medical community, the faith-based community, the agricultural community, and the business community.
This overall strategic work is being supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The six-month grant from Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program, made to COVID Collaborative as a key convener of these efforts, will work toward putting the U.S. on a path to full vaccination for COVID-19 by developing targeted messaging to increase vaccine education, public trust and enthusiasm for vaccinations in areas where challenges remain.
“Helmsley is proud to support the COVID Collaborative as it undertakes this critically important initiative,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley Trustee. “We share a common goal to improve the health outcomes of families who live in rural America, especially during this challenging time.”
About the COVID Collaborative
COVID Collaborative is a national assembly of experts, leaders and institutions in health, education and the economy and associations representing the diversity of the country to turn the tide on the pandemic by supporting federal, state and local COVID-19 response efforts. To learn more, visit www.CovidCollaborative.us, and follow the COVID Collaborative on Twitter and LinkedIn.
“We’re thrilled to help mobilize so many key organizations to ramp up their efforts to reach more Americans in rural areas,” said John Bridgeland, CEO of COVID Collaborative. “Our goal is to help Americans in rural areas make informed decisions about the vaccine with quality information from the sources they trust.”
About the Health Action Alliance
The Health Action Alliance is a joint initiative of the Ad Council, the Business Roundtable, the CDC Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—in partnership with Meteorite. Together, we work to strengthen and accelerate the business community’s response to COVID-19, advance health equity and help rebuild public health. Learn more at healthaction.org.
“In the fight against COVID-19, the path to stronger immunity for all Americans runs right through rural communities. Throughout the pandemic, rural business and agricultural leaders have been trusted voices and key partners in the response – sharing facts, prioritizing safety and improving health access across many communities,” said Stephen Massey, Managing Director of the Health Action Alliance.
About the National Rural Health Association
The National Rural Health Association is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 21,000 members. The association’s mission is to provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education and research.
“This is an important time for rural Americans to come together to keep our towns safe and open for business.” said Alan Morgan, CEO, The National Rural Health Association.
About the Center for Rural Strategies, Rural Assembly and Daily Yonder
Center for Rural Strategies seeks to improve economic and social conditions for communities in the countryside and around the world through the creative and innovative use of media and communications. Its Rural Assembly, a movement of rural people and organizations from all fifty states, works at local, regional, and national levels to build more opportunity and better policy for rural communities across the country. It also publishes the Daily Yonder, a digital news platform that covers rural news for a national audience of rural residents, advocates, policymakers, and journalists.
"As people across rural America's towns, small cities and Tribal Nations make their decisions about vaccination, having accurate information and access to vaccines is vital," says Whitney Kimball Coe, director of national programs at the Center for Rural Strategies. "We're proud to share the stories of rural business owners and other leaders who are supporting employees and community members, and to offer Health Action Alliance resources to support dialogue in the workplace and beyond."
About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions.
“Local elected officials still remain the most trusted level of government and many mayors and council members take this trust seriously and have been communicating honestly and transparently with their residents about the importance of vaccination. NLC is proud to provide the resources and information that local leaders need to help their communities and their workforces recover and rebuild,” said NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony.
About the American Farm Bureau Federation
The American Farm Bureau Federation is working with Farm Bureau organizations in the 50 states and Puerto Rico to connect farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans with reliable and trusted information about COVID-19 precautions, the safety of vaccinations and where to get them.
“I have been so encouraged by how our state and county Farm Bureaus have stepped up to help provide answers and resources to address the questions and concerns shared by many throughout the pandemic. Farmers and ranchers are again demonstrating that they are community leaders who care about the health and safety of their employees,” said Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation.
About The Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $500 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Montana. Learn more at helmsleytrust.org.
About the Rural America Chamber of Commerce
The Rural America Chamber of Commerce is a national, member-based organization that is committed to supporting, promoting, and empowering entrepreneurs who are based in rural communities throughout the USA. The Chamber achieves its mission via direct member services and advocacy rooted in both public policy and social policy.
About the Ad Council
The Ad Council has a long history of creating life-saving public service communications in times of national crisis. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.org, follow the Ad Council's communities on Facebook and Twitter.
National Rural Business Summit
COVID Collaborative, Health Action Alliance, and partners representing rural America hosted a National Business Summit on engaging employees and residents in rural areas and small cities, offering case studies, best practices and actionable tools for employers and other leaders. The Summit featured guest speakers including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, White House Vaccinations Coordinator Bechara Choucair, and COVID Collaborative co-chair and former Governor Dirk Kempthorne.