Yesterday, the public relations company for the Jackson health system in Miami sent emails to influential people and other locals with a large number of followers on social media, announcing “Influenza Vaccine Day” at the hospital.
“You would be invited to come (possibly with +1) and take the Pfizer vaccine,” the email said. “We hope you’ll post your experience, and we’ll have a videographer there, and maybe we’ll do a short interview with you for Jackson’s social media.”
The e-mail states that efforts in the field are still ongoing, but that Influenza Vaccine Day is planned for this or next week. All Florida residents over the age of 16 became eligible for the vaccine on Monday.
Cari Garcia, um behind Fatgirl Hedonistic food blog, was one influencer who received an email. Her first thought, “Are you kidding?”
Garcia works in the healthcare industry in Broward County and has been trying for weeks to provide vaccines for family members and high-risk friends. She says accepting the term for the vaccine would be a “huge ethical conflict” for her because of the number of followers.
“I feel like there are people who need it more,” she says New Times. “And I’d much rather see high-risk individuals get the vaccine before I see a young, healthy influencer get it thanks to social media merit, and not for any other reason.”
After Garcia posted a screenshot of the email, the reaction was unclear. To some, the idea was distasteful and unusual.
“This is awful,” one person wrote.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions …” said another.
??????????? The road to hell is paved with good intentions …
– BuenaVida Media (@BuenaVidaMedia) April 7, 2021
Others thought the plan was a smart way to encourage public health messaging. Some have said that supporting vaccination is a noble use of social media.
“Better than trading in Monat,” one person replied, referring to a multi-level marketing company that sells shampoo.
This is GREAT! Now that Jackson has opened vaccines for everyone, they need to make sure they are taken by as many people as possible. At first glance, this may seem like self-promotion, but it’s actually the best use of influencer infrastructure. Better than selling a monat.
– Julio E. Ligorria (@MisterJuly) April 6, 2021
Honestly, influential people would make it useful.
– Alex Hauard (@ ajhoward121) April 6, 2021
In a statement to New Times, Jackson Health said the effort to engage people with influence on social media is an additional layer of the hospital’s vaccine reach strategy now that all adults are entitled to it.
“Our ultimate goal is to vaccinate as many people in our community as possible as soon as possible so that we can leave this pandemic behind,” the statement said. (Jackson’s full statement is at the bottom of this post.)
Jackson is not alone in asking influencers to publish news about the COVID vaccine. For example, the Oklahoma County Department of Health’s Department of Health has paid for posts on social media by influencers who can spread the word about the vaccine to residents.
Professor of Communications at Cornell University Jeff Niederdeppe said Atlantic that it is “more better” when it comes to involving influencers in public health campaigns. And Rohit Deshpande, an economist and professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, wrote about how influencers can help spread accurate and timely public health messages. Deshpande also says that influencers who activate “people’s fear of not missing” can encourage those left behind in vaccines to get an injection.
Still, Garcia, of Fatgirl Hedonist’s blog, says Influenza Vaccine Day feels like she’s crossing the line, especially when Jackson requires other residents to schedule an appointment on a fast-paced online system.
While you are on the phone with New Times, Garcia has checked sites for Jackson Health, Publix, Walgreens and other companies that provide the opportunity. All dates for Miami-Dade and Broward are reserved. The only meetings available were in cities nearly four hours north of Miami. One wonders if it is fair for influencers and their pluses to get vaccinated, while regular people continue to refresh on online meeting sites.
“When you’re trying to advocate for your own family or friends that you know are risky and you can’t help them, then you see that it’s being offered, it’s a little discouraging to see that,” Garcia says. (Despite the difficulty of booking online, there are several vaccination sites throughout South Florida for which no meeting is required.)
It is unclear how many doses of vaccine Jackson is offering to influencers, but the hospital says no compensation will be paid to those who agree to participate.
“There will be absolutely no payment to any influencer – or any community leader we partner with in our efforts to achieve the vaccine – in exchange for helping educate the public about the safety, efficacy and benefits of this vaccine,” the hospital says. New Times.
Jackson Health Statement:
For more than three months, Jackson Health System has been the leading vaccination supplier in Miami-Dade County, with nearly 150,000 people vaccinated at our facilities since early January. From day one, we focused on educating the community about the benefits of this vaccine through a variety of field efforts, including producing a series of videos in three languages featuring our medical professionals and hosting virtual city halls for community leaders and the public. We were also a model for reaching traditionally underserved communities by associating with places of worship and non-profit community groups to vaccinate their members.
Now that all adults in Florida are eligible for vaccination, we are launching another layer of our comprehensive information plan: partnering with influential social networks to spread the message of vaccine effectiveness to the younger generation. Our ultimate goal is to vaccinate as many people in our community as possible so that we can leave this pandemic behind.
Each influencer will be allowed to bring one eligible spouse, partner, or relative to Florida. Absolutely no payment will be made to any influencer – or any community leader we partner with in our efforts to achieve vaccines – in exchange for helping educate the public about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of this vaccine.
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