Former football stars team up with CDC to promote COVID vaccination



March 11, 2021, MedPage today reported that the CDC has partnered with the National Football League (NFL) Alumni Association to promote key messages about the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly the need to get vaccinated, wear masks and practice distancing social. The organizers hoped to capitalize on the notoriety of former players, in particular by seeking to reach minority populations. In this report, we follow up on what has happened since the launch of this campaign.

With COVID-19 vaccines now readily available throughout the United States, countryside has also transformed, reducing its focus and adding well-known former players.

In early August, as the Delta variant spread and millions of Americans refused to be vaccinated, the CDC and the NFL Alumni Association relaunched their campaign.

According to A press release Announcing the reboot, the campaign “appeals to those who hesitate by acknowledging their concerns, dispelling common myths and directing them to resources that can help them make an informed decision.”

With more than 50 former players hired as ambassadors, the campaign “now aims to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccination in metropolitan areas,” according to a slide shared with MedPage today By Campaign Director Janet Marchibroda, Executive Director of NFL Alumni Health.

“The NFL is using its platform to amplify messages promoting the COVID-19 vaccination,” the The CDC said in November, including “NFL Alumni Health’s Partnership … on National Campaign to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Reluctance.”

The CDC selected 20 areas in or near NFL markets based on immunization gaps when the effort was funded in late spring, Marchibroda said. The CDC shares data such as death and case rates, as well as vaccination uptake, with the NFL Alumni Association, linking it to local and national public health departments, a spokesperson wrote in an e -mail.

The players were chosen based on their popularity, community work and ability as a spokesperson, Marchibroda said. Justin Jefferson, an active Minnesota Vikings star, has been selected to reach a younger demographic.

Hearing the importance of immunization from trusted members of the community can help people decide whether to get the vaccine. CDC has partnered with NFL alumni as key trusted figures to broadcast reliable information and share their own personal stories and reasons for the vaccination, ”the CDC spokesperson added. . “Many of these alumni are also helping to bring attention to clinics and immunization activities. “

TMZ reported in July that the CDC earmarked $ 3.5 million for the campaign, which Marchibroda and the CDC confirmed.

Move offline and add stars

After relying solely on social media posts and online videos during the initial launch, organizers and volunteers have organized and hosted events throughout the fall, including nearly 20 events in 13 cities. featuring over 80 current and former players.

They have also added spokespersons to their roster, along with a sample of the league’s best players in recent memory, including Hall of Fame members Jerry Rice and Brian Dawkins, who have played most of their careers in the top 10 markets targeted by the campaign. Former top players as national TV hosts have also volunteered, including Howie Long, Cris Carter and Marshall Faulk.

Additionally, Anthony Muñoz, one of the league’s few Hispanic stars in its 100-year history, recorded a video message. Three quarters of the 48 integrated videos on a campaign page with black players.

During the events, the players echoed the health authorities, including the CDC, urging the population to inform themselves.

At an event in Richmond, Va. On December 11 former Washington football star Gary Clark and others signed autographs, talked to fans and posed for photos, Clark said. MedPage today during a video call.

Many were fans of the Washington squad, Clark said – “we were the draw” – and seemed timid when they arrived. They consulted providers and talked to players before getting vaccinated. “Their first question was, ‘Are you vaccinated? “, Recalls Clark.

Clark was happy to be there, “to support, once again, getting information so that you can be informed to make an informed decision about getting vaccinated – or not getting vaccinated,” he said. declared during the event, according to a local news station.

Meanwhile, vaccine coordinator Danny Avula, MD, a Richmond-based pediatrician, told the station he appreciates former players creating “memorable experiences to encourage people to get vaccinated.”

“We’re not trying to tell anyone what to do,” Clark added. “I always think it’s about educating yourself… and then making your own decision. “

The NFL Alumni Association has also co-sponsored a few virtual city halls with the CDC, HHS, and the FDA, including one with Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA. These events were organized by the Black Coalition Against COVID.

“We hope the voices of our former NFL students inspire those who have not yet been vaccinated – or those who have not yet received a booster – to explore their concerns with a healthcare professional, to obtain facts and decide to protect not only themselves, but also the youngest members of their families, ”said Beasley Reece, CEO of the association, as reported in a mid-November statement. blog post.

About 350 media articles (including social media posts) have cited the campaign so far, which has drawn more than 1,100 people to the events, according to Marchibroda.

While another CDC public health communications campaign involving the NFL on brain injury awareness in sports previously struggled to connect with its audience, this campaign appears to be different.

After debating whether to get a booster en route to the Richmond event, Clark, who hates getting shot, finally decided to get one when he got there.

Last updated on January 04, 2022

  • Ryan Basen reports for the MedPage Corporate and Investigative Team. He often writes on matters relating to the practice and business of medicine, nursing, cannabis and psychedelic medicine, and sports medicine. Send story tips to [email protected] To follow



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