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One Vax Two Lives: A Social Media Campaign and Research Program to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Pregnancy

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      Abstract

      The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disproportionately impacted pregnant people by increasing health risks of maternal morbidity and mortality, stillbirth, and preterm birth. Although numerous studies have supported the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy to prevent or mitigate risk for these adverse outcomes, many pregnant people remain hesitant. Approximately half of U.S. adults regularly consume news from social media platforms, which are a fertile ground for the spread of vaccine disinformation. The lack of information regarding COVID-19 vaccine safety early in the pandemic fueled vaccine myths targeting the fears of pregnant people about vaccination risks. Saddened by the spike in maternal deaths of unvaccinated individuals during the COVID-19 Delta variant surge in the Fall of 2021, we created a social media campaign to promote scientific communication regarding the risks of COVID-19 disease in pregnancy and the benefits of vaccination. We called the campaign ‘One Vax Two Lives’, which refers to the ability of one maternal vaccine to benefit the health and lives of both the pregnant individual and their fetus. We present a blueprint of how we leveraged a large, inter-disciplinary student workforce to create a social media campaign and research program studying vaccine hesitancy, which can be replicated by other groups. Community engagement and partnerships from key stakeholders, like the Washington State Department of Health, were essential for amplifying the campaign and giving our team feedback on content and approach. We present the analytics of our social media ads, web articles and video content that helped inform the iterative design process of the multi-media content. Moving forward, we are launching collaborative research programs to study vaccine hesitancy to inform development of new social media content designed for pregnant individuals that identify as: 1) Spanish-speaking Hispanic/Latina/x, 2) Black or Afro-Latinx, and 3) living in a rural community of Washington State. Data from these mixed methods studies will inform new communication campaigns to reach vaccine hesitant individuals. Finally, we discuss lessons learned and how the most impactful elements of the campaign can be translated to related areas of maternal public health.

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