Will familiar faces in PSAs inspire people to get COVID vaccinations?

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 3:36 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont has one of the highest vaccine uptake rates in the country, especially in the older age bands. Health officials want to make sure younger people are following suit now that everyone 16 and up is eligible for a shot. Our Olivia Lyons looks at a new promotional campaign to convince teens to roll up their sleeves.

As the vaccine rollout continues, the Rutland Regional Medical Center focuses on the demographic now eligible. At this time, it’s high school students.

“When I presented this idea, they were really on board about how they wanted to be able to present this idea to their peers,” said Kristin Cimonetti, a music teacher.

Mill River Union High School’s chamber singers are taking part in one of RRMC’s commercials encouraging the community to get vaccinated.

“I was super excited to get the phone call to ask our Mill River chamber singers to participate in this PSA,” Cimonetti said.

As a teacher, she has been fully vaccinated for several weeks. And says she is proud of her students for being so eager to spread the word.

“When this opportunity came up to help encourage people to get the vaccine while doing something I love, it was a no-brainer,” said Annika Heintz, a junior.

It’s been 14 months since Heintz has seen her brother and other family members in Canada. She is looking forward to getting back to some kind of normal.

“I’ve seen two grades of some of my best friends miss out on graduation and their prom,” Heintz said. “This year’s senior class probably won’t get any prom because they didn’t get to go their junior year. And I’ve seen them struggle even more so with college admissions than a normal class. And I just feel so much for them and I don’t want that for anyone else.”

“This is a very tight-knit community,” said Gerianne Smart, the manager of marketing and public relations at RRMC.

Smart says when recognizable faces say they are getting the vaccine, it makes a difference.

“The more we make this a familiar conversation and an OK and comfortable thing to do, the more people will accept it is something they can do as their part in helping us get beyond this pandemic,” Smart said.

Heintz has an appointment scheduled for May and is on the end-of-day vaccine standby list.

“I’ve actually been surprised at how many students have said they have an appointment,” she said.

The hospital typically posts videos about a week after filming. Click here to see some.

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