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Local health departments working to restore trust as they fight vaccine misinformation

Skepticism around Covid vaccines now threatens other public health priorities. How Oklahoma City’s new campaign focusing on choice may have helped boost vaccine rates.

December 27th, 2022 By Lauren Sausser, Kaiser Health News

OKLAHOMA CITY — By the summer of 2021, Phil Maytubby, deputy CEO of the Health Department here, was concerned to see the numbers of people getting vaccinated against Covid slipping after an initially robust response.

With doubt, fear and misinformation running rampant nationwide — both online and offline — he knew the agency needed to rethink its messaging strategy.

So the Health Department conducted something called an online “sentiment search,” which gauges how certain words are perceived on social media. The tool found that many people in Oklahoma City didn’t like the word “vaccinate” — a word featured prominently in the health department’s marketing campaign.

“If you don’t know how your message is resonating with the public,” Maytubby said, “you’re shooting in the dark.”…

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