This is your shot

Ask many people in communities of color what they think of the COVID-19 vaccine, and their first reaction is “No way – how can I trust it?” From Tuskegee to Henrietta Lacks to decades of systemic racism throughout healthcare, it’s no wonder Black Americans have an elevated mistrust of vaccines.

As is the case with most public health issues, driving vaccine adherence requires going beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. Different populations experience health issues differently, and many also face inequities and disparities unique to their community. This dynamic is especially true in North Carolina, which ranked 46th among U.S. states in health disparities in 2019 by The Commonwealth Fund. The pandemic caused by COVID-19 not only brought those disparities fully to bear, they in many cases deepened them – particularly when it came to vaccine adherence within Black and Latinx communities.

UNC Health, an academic medical system including 11 hospitals, 1,700 physician faculty, and 40,000 employees throughout North Carolina and neighboring states, knew they could play a critical role in helping these audiences. The key to understanding vaccine hesitancy within these communities of color was extensive attitudinal and demographic research.

Working with Revive, UNC Health dug deep to understand the unique perceptions and communications preferences of these communities. The result was a campaign promoting COVID-19 vaccinations called ‘This Is Your Shot.’

The campaign featured a go-to resource hub,, with real-time, pertinent vaccine information, traditional media communications including a social-media strategy and Super Bowl commercial featuring influential Black sports star Torry Holt, and educational materials reflecting the unique healthcare viewpoints and differentiated cultures of Black and Latinx communities.

Consumer identification and healthcare attitudes are constantly being captured for use in segmentation and communications planning. Results from the first few months of the campaign included an increase in website visits from 6,000 to 155,000, and more than 100,000 North Carolinians registering for vaccination through the site.