By Jacqueline Howard, CNN
New ads promoting the Covid-19 vaccines are making their debut this week, targeting specific communities that have had a slow uptake of the updated shots.
Black audiences are encouraged to get vaccinated in the “On Point” video, released by the US Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.
A Spanish-language ad titled “No te pierdas el juego” also started airing Monday, targeting Latino audiences. An English version of the ad, the title of which translates to “Don’t Miss the Game,” is scheduled for release next month during the FIFA World Cup.
“The new television ads airing today send an urgent message to communities at high-risk of severe illness from COVID that the updated vaccine is the best tool we have against hospitalization and death,” Sarah Lovenheim, HHS assistant secretary for public affairs, wrote in an email to CNN on Monday.
“These ads also reflect our commitment to equity in our COVID response and the need to redouble efforts to reach Black and Hispanic communities about the benefits of the updated vaccines,” she said. “We have seen COVID infections increase in prior winters, and it does not have to be that way this year. We now have updated COVID-19 vaccines to protect you against the Omicron strain.”
The new ads, first reported on CNN, will run in 15 US markets, according to HHS. Radio and print versions will run in 30 markets across the country.
HHS also released two radio ads Monday targeting rural communities: a football-themed ad called “Can’t-Miss Moments” and a country music-themed ad called “Feel Good Country.” On Wednesday, the agency will release radio ads in seven languages, titled “In Agreement,” targeting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
The ads, with a special focus on communities that have historically been underserved, are part of the Biden administration’s effort to encourage people to get their updated vaccine ahead of winter.
As the US moves into the fall, Covid-19 cases have been dropping. Normally, that would be a reason for hope that the nation could escape the surges of the past two pandemic winters. But virus experts fear that the downward trend may soon reverse itself, possibly fueled by the latest Omicron subvariants.
“What is likely to happen is that we have several co-circulating, semi-dominate lineages going into the winter season,” Nathan Grubaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told CNN last week.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.8 million people have gotten an updated bivalent vaccine six weeks into the campaign promoting it. That’s less than 10% of the population that’s eligible to get one.
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CNN’s Brenda Goodman contributed to this report.