The CDC is embarking on an ambitious mission to reframe perceptions of flu vaccines as a response to declining vaccination rates. Recognizing a worrisome decline in vaccine uptake among pregnant individuals and children, the CDC has launched its “Wild to Mild” campaign, aimed at boosting awareness about the advantages of vaccination and motivating more people to roll up their sleeves for the flu shot.
Influenza poses a particularly grave threat to pregnant individuals and children, as the 2022-23 flu season sadly demonstrated with over 100 children falling victim to the virus, many of whom had not been vaccinated. Research also underscores the risks of infection during pregnancy, which can lead to severe illness and adverse outcomes, including reduced birth weights. Shockingly, vaccine usage in both of these vulnerable demographic groups has seen a concerning decline since the onset of the pandemic.
The CDC, which has tracked a troubling 16.6 percentage point drop in vaccine usage during pregnancy, has reacted swiftly with its “Wild to Mild” campaign. This initiative is grounded in scientific evidence showing that breakthrough cases have raised doubts about vaccine effectiveness, and many individuals remain unaware that flu shots can alleviate symptoms, even if they don’t entirely prevent infections.
Intriguingly, focus groups have illuminated a compelling insight: the public resonates with the idea that vaccines can reduce the severity of symptoms. Building on this, the CDC has crafted a series of visually striking graphics illustrating how flu shots can transform a wild and menacing virus into a milder, more manageable form. Each graphic cleverly juxtaposes a fierce wild animal, such as a bear or lion, with a gentle counterpart, like a cuddly toy or kitten.
This creative approach was chosen after consumer testing revealed its effectiveness. It challenged the prevailing belief that flu vaccines solely prevent flu and successfully reset expectations about the role of the flu vaccine. Feedback from those who viewed the information indicated that it was perceived as “truthful” and “realistic,” ultimately elevating their impression of the CDC.
Having settled on this innovative concept for their digital campaign, the CDC plans to disseminate this message through paid ad placements, organic social media content, “microinfluencer partnerships,” and a range of other strategic activities. With this engaging and relatable approach, the CDC aims to reignite public interest in flu vaccination and protect those most vulnerable to the virus.