To help build confidence in and increase demand for COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC is partnering with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and several other organizations on an innovative community initiative leveraging local artists as trusted vaccine messengers.
The COVID-19 Georgia Arts pilot is a unique collaboration between CDC, the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, DPH, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) Georgia, and two local arts organizations – Dashboard and Living Walls – to increase vaccine uptake through public art. A series of recently launched art installations and events will continue throughout August in select neighborhoods in cities including Atlanta, Savannah, and Athens. Some of the events – which focus on communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 – will feature pop-up vaccination sites, providing convenient opportunities to access COVID-19 vaccines.
“There is a long history in the U.S. of partnering with arts and media organizations to promote health education,” said Peggy Honein, Deputy Incident Manager for CDC’s COVID-19 Response. “Local artists can play an important role in delivering fact-based information and serving as trusted messengers within their communities to increase confidence in vaccines. This is a truly unique opportunity to work together to demonstrate the power and potential of the arts as a public health strategy to protect communities.”
Vaccine-focused Living Walls “Signs of Solidarity” canvases have been installed in nine neighborhoods throughout Atlanta. Living Walls is also planning two events – one on Aug 7 at My Abuelas Food from noon to 5 pm, and the other from noon to 6 pm on Aug. 14th at the Latin American Association – that will feature free onsite vaccine clinics to increase access for people in the community. In addition, Dashboard will present a large-scale public art projection on Aug. 18th in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill neighborhood in conjunction with the Atlanta United game at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium. CORE Georgia will be on-hand to provide COVID-19 vaccination and testing to interested people.
This pilot is part of DPH’s broader “Say ‘Yes’ to COVID-19 vaccines” campaign, and the lessons learned can be applied to communities nationwide. The Georgia pilot project will serve as a “case study” for other states interested in using arts and culture to empower vaccine confidence.
In addition to – and in support of these efforts – CDC’s collaboration with the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine has resulted in the development of a set of informational field guides, a comprehensive program repository to drive public health partnerships with arts and culture programming in communities, and an Aug 24 webinar for health and arts professionals on vaccine confidence collaborative efforts.
Engaging the arts community is just one of many creative strategies being used by public health to promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence and increase uptake. Strong confidence in COVID-19 vaccines within communities leads to more people getting vaccinated, which will ultimately help stop this unprecedented pandemic.